My State Record Sunfish

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My State Record Sunfish and I

The day began like any of my other San Marcos River Day trips; launched just before sunrise with beautiful sunny skies and warm 85 degree weather (took place in July). I had been fly fishing for a few months prior bringing nothing but the fly; by this time I had fully converted to fly fishing and the poor bait casters were getting dusty in the garage. I normally target bass and the occasional sunfish on the fly and this day was no different.

About half way into the float I must have made a dozen fly changes and hadn’t gotten a single bite from a bass. I then decided to tie on

Macy with her bass
Macy with her bass

my tried and true Sunfish fly and do what we call in Texas, a little Perch jerking. Shortly after, I started catching all different species of sunfish such as long ear sunfish and red breast sunfish. Continue reading My State Record Sunfish

Gear Up for Cold Weather Paddling

buff thermal pro multifunctional headware
Buff Thermal Pro Multifunctional Headware

Just because winter is approaching does not mean you have to hang up your yak and paddle until spring. Of course it’s your choice if you want to hunker down this winter with a cup of hot chocolate and a Charles Dickens classic (and if that is your decision then might I suggest our recent post on storing your kayak?), but I know there is a large group of you out there who won’t let a little cold stop you from your favorite outdoor activities. It is for that reason that I wanted to help you out with a little advice from our expert staff at ACK on how to extend that paddling season straight through Mother Nature’s coldest mood, and it starts and ends in your closet.

 

The most important piece of advice we have to offer is to dress for the conditions. Gone are the days where throwing on your tank and board shorts qualified yourself for an afternoon paddle. Continue reading Gear Up for Cold Weather Paddling

Boondoggle 2014

Boondoggle
Barrett with a snook

Boondoggle… What is it? Kayak Fishing Boondoggle is a bi-annual 4-day event held during President’s Day and Columbus Day weekends. Kayak anglers from all over the country meet up at a selected campground to fish, hang out with 468 like minded kayakers and check out all the new products in the vendor village.

The October 2014 was held at KARS Park, Merritt Island, FL.To get there Ryan from the Austin store, Juan Carlos ACK Fleet Sales Manger, and myself from the San Antonio store had to travel 1200+ miles with kayaks and fishing gear for both inshore and offshore. Continue reading Boondoggle 2014

How to Choose a Trolling Rod Holder

Guest blog written by Andrew Moczygemba, Railblaza 

Rod Holder
Photo courtesy of Stephen Snider

This year, we have seen multiple big water kayaks like the Viking Reload and the Wilderness Thresher introduced to the market. While these are both all-purpose kayaks, they are designed for appeal to the offshore, beyond the breaker (BTB), kayak fishermen. Like these kayaks, their rod holder counterparts are technically all-purpose rod holders, some of which are designed for and appeal to the offshore kayak angler such as the Railblaza Rod Holder ||.

Most BTB anglers will be trolling baits with their rods locked in rod holders from time to time. In fact, some fish this way exclusively. Continue reading How to Choose a Trolling Rod Holder

Wilderness Systems AirPro MAX Seat

MAX Seat
Ride 115 MAX

Wilderness Systems upgraded their kayak seating in a big way with the newest addition to their Ride kayak series. They recently launched their brand new Ride MAX series featuring the Phase 3® AirPro MAX high/low seating system. In their recent press release Wilderness Systems says “The AirPro MAX preserves the popular innovations found in most Phase 3 seats- adjustability, comfort features and high-quality materials- yet it is a true advancement in design.”

MAX Seat
In Low Seat Position

“Made in the USA, with years of design and innovation and extensive testing, the Ride 115 MAX, Ride 115X MAX and Ride 135 MAX all featuring the Phase 3® AirPro MAX Seat are game changing for anglers of all skill levels. Wilderness Systems’ Pro Staff anglers were an integral part of the Phase 3® AirPro MAX design process (…) The contributions and feedback from the Pro Staff are reflected in every aspect of the seat, from the easy adjustability and installation to the premium durable materials used to build it.”

A few features of the Phase 3® AirPro Seat that really make it stand out include the option of three different seating positions: high, low, and recline, its height, which improves the ability to change from sitting to standing and back, the breathable mesh fabric that stays cool, dries quickly and is UV resistant and the easy to adjust seat positions giving you the ability to adjust your seat without having to un-clip or loosen straps. Continue reading Wilderness Systems AirPro MAX Seat

Big Boats On Small Water: A Possibility Brought to you by C-TUG

Guest blog written by Matt Moccia, Hobie Pro Staff

c-tug For years I’ve enjoyed fishing out of a small kayak on various rivers and other small waters inaccessible to larger watercraft. The problem with this was they were inaccessible to vehicles as well, which meant limiting the amount of gear you could bring along. For a serious fisherman this is a problem.  This problem only grew once I upgraded to a larger kayak, a Hobie Pro Angler 12, and wanted to find an easy and efficient way to get it to these remote places. After trying some of the various kayak carts on the market with very limited success  I was introduced to the C-TUG. One of the first things that caught my eye was the load capacity and larger diameter airless tires. Continue reading Big Boats On Small Water: A Possibility Brought to you by C-TUG

Advice for New Kayak Anglers

proangler14-action-rob-wendle-smallie-60-full 2With kayak fishing growing in popularity by the minute we thought it would be a great idea to ask our seasoned kayak anglers to provide some advice and tricks for the those looking to get started. So we took to our Facebook wall and asked our followers to give us the best piece of advice they had and boy did we get a response! By far the most popular piece of advice given was to invest in the best PFD you can afford and wear it while on the water; safety should always come first! Coming in second was all new kayak anglers should also take the time to familiarize themselves with their gear and kayak as well as check the weather forecast before setting out on their first kayak angling adventure. Below is the complete list of advice we received from our fans. Continue reading Advice for New Kayak Anglers

3am Coffee

As a kid, I was fortunate to be exposed to the outdoors by my family. My father’s side of the family enjoyed hunting as much as Grandpa River enjoyed the coast, so hook and bullets became a way of life for me.  Those traditions growing up were some of the best I had in my life and thankfully, they continue.

FishNaBox
The catch

A trip to the coast came about as an open weekend that offered a chance to do some coastal fishing. With any chance to hit the Texas salt, I made my way to Goose Island State Park near Rockport.  I contacted my cousin to see if he would be open to joining.  While he lives only 20 miles away, our busy schedules make it difficult to find time to meet, let alone enough time for a good fishing trip. Luckily he was able to make it work for this endeavor.  After he confirmed we invited his dad (my uncle) and made our trip a little family affair!

As with any trip to the coast, the menu is a discussion of paramount importance. From breakfast tacos to some suspect summer sausage, the one
item that would make a lasting impression to me was the coffee. For most camping trips many would think coffee is a no brainer. What made this coffee special though was not just the warmth or the bitterness, but the conversations that took place while brewing it and the time shared while drinking it. Unfortunately, that coffee did nothing to aid in our weather forecast that weekend. The Texas summer is hot, humid, and just plain nasty. With little rain, it seems the entire countryside dries up. As we all met up at the park, it was talked about that this trip would be a night fishing trip, offering us a break from the oppressive sun and unrelenting heat. This offered us the best chance to not only enjoy the trip, but also catch fish. With a few hours to kill before we headed out, we packed our coolers and readied our gear.

ForEverlast Ray Guards
Stirring up the muck…

Although the bulk of our fishing was to be done at night, the last two hours of daylight offer some prime fish catching opportunities. So for the last few moments of light, we hit a flat that was known to house good sized reds. Once at the spot, we unloaded and walked on out. Wading in the Texas salt, you need to be aware of the creatures that can end a trip in one misstep. Many fishermen who wade know that with each step the water is muddied, making it virtually impossible to see what lies on the floor and that is exactly where the most painful of all creatures, the stingray, can get you. The best protection against them and their barbs are wading guards or boots; fishing shin guards if you will. These guards offer great protection in the event you were to step on a ray and have them react violently.  To feel the power of a hit is similar to that of your buddy giving you a slug punch, provided your buddy is Mike Tyson.  So with this knowledge, I strapped on my ForEverlast Shin Protectors and headed out along the flat while the others stayed behind to enjoy the sunset and began to get the baits ready.

After returning from my solo walk, and with the sun setting, poles rigged, baits cut, and lines out, we waited. As with any gathering of relatives, the topic of family came up. Catching up is always a fun thing. What we didn’t realize was that with all the catching up we were doing was not being interrupted by fish catching. Time after time, our baits were being taken by crabs and or perch, neither of which were redfish.  This went on for a few hours, and by the time we noticed it was 11pm and still no fish. We had been on the water at this spot for a few hours and no luck!

By 1 AM each of us were showing signs of being tired and frustrated. That is when my cousin’s line started to sing!  WHAM! His pole bent over and the line began to zing from the reel. Fish on!  It turned out to be a nice red, a good keeper. Our luck had turned! With a few more fish in the box the night began to drag. It was 3am by this time and we all showed signs of a long day. That is when I thought it would be a good idea for my secret weapon. As we loaded up the boat, my uncle and cousin both commented how they wished they had filled their thermoses with coffee for the night. Well with no thermos, I brought the next best thing- hot fresh camp coffee!

I call it camp coffee because the only time I drink it is when I’m camping. Having owned my MSR Pocket Rocket Stove for a few years, it is one of those items I enjoy being able to use in the field. When I asked my uncle if he wanted a cup of hot coffee his reply was nothing short of hilarious, “How do you plan doing that?” with as smart a tone as a 70 year old fisherman could muster. As I broke out my gear he seemed impressed (and a tad bit confused) as to how this would brew up coffee. As I brewed us both cups of coffee I explained exactly how the pocket rocket worked and how to mix the instant coffee and water together. Before we both knew it we had a nice cup of joe! As he enjoyed his camp coffee and I the same,  we talked about how a good cup of coffee seems to lift the spirits of those who are enjoying it. The conversation turned to other coffee stories that involved the outdoors. We kinda had our own version of “Coffee Talk.” Being a true lover of coffee, he told me how he once had a boat rigged with a coffee percolator, the original camp coffee. Again, this was not the “best” coffee, but is was the best cup of coffee we both had ever had at 3am after a long night of fishing.

As the hours moved on we managed to box a few more fish and before dawn headed in. I’ll soon forget the number of fish we landed that night, and I may soon forget how tired I felt when got back to the camper and crashed. However I won’t forget the time I enjoyed a 3 AM camp coffee with my uncle. And this my friends, are what memories are made of.

-Brad @ ACK

Time to Gear Up For Fall Kayak Fishing

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Gear up for fall kayak fishing

September is finally here bringing along with it the start to the fall kayak fishing season. It’s an anglers perfect season with temperate temperatures, quiet lakes, rivers and oceans, and most of all- great fishing. Fall is also the last chance to enjoy the sport for many who will soon have to put their kayaks away until Spring. To help you prepare for this awesome time of year, I have put together three tips on how to gear up for your fall kayak fishing trips!

Layer, Layer, Layer

As we roll into the fall season paddlers will need to be prepared for the steady drop in temperature. The best way to do this is to layer your usual summer angling outfit. I recommend starting with two base layers, one to cover your arms and the other to protect your legs. The Level Six Hot Fuzz Tights are the perfect base to your summer shorts while the Bomber Gear Halo Long Sleeve Top is a great replacement to your warm weather t-shirt.

When fall and winter start intertwining, you are going to want to take extra care to bundle adequately. Splash and dry wear will be your new best friend and will comfortably fit over your base layers to keep you warm and out on the water. Our Cold Weather Paddling Layering Guide has some great tips on how to dress for the season change.

Let There Be Light

With fall comes shorter days and darker evenings. For those who enjoy a post-work paddle this makes extra lighting a necessity. If you plan on enjoying a few evening paddles then a kayak fishing light is the way to go.

Check out our kayak lighting section for a large selection of lighting options that will keep you out on your kayak hours after the sun sets. Anyone night fishing should also take time to review the laws in their area regarding watercraft lighting after dark. Many states require that you have a 360 degree white light like the Railblaza NaviLux 360 Degree LED Light.

The Buff Hoodie Thermal Pro
The Buff Hoodie Thermal Pro

Sun Protection

For those of you who plan on getting out on the water during the weekends, protection from the sun will be an absolute must. Thankfully, covering up for the sun and cold weather go hand in hand.

Shop for apparel with UPF ratings on them like the Columbia PFG Bahama II Long Sleeve Shirt (which also fits great over your base layers) as well as items that will cover your hands and face. A solid hat such as the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat will protect your face and neck from the sun when you are out on the water for a long day of kayak fishing.

If you are looking for face protection that doubles as protection from the cold Buff is one of the most popular ways to go. Their Buff Thermal Pro Hoodie is a fantastic option that will keep you comfortable, warm, and protected from sun rays while you fish.

Time To Get Outside!

Now that you are prepared with your cold weather gear, kayak fishing lights, and sun protection it is finally time to get out on your yak! Once out there be sure to note how you feel before, during, and after your paddle. Did you need more or less layers? Brighter lights? Make sure to always take care and adjust items to fit you perfectly to ensure you get the most out of your time on the water.

 

Think I missed something? Have some tips and tricks of your own? Comment below and let me know!

-Dayvee @ ACK

Bethany Wine Scholarship Fund Tournament

The weekend of July 19th I had the opportunity to fish the Bethany Wine Scholarship Fund Tournament. Bethany was a young lady that unfortunately passed away last year from a rare form of cancer. She was a well-known, and well loved, person in the kayak fishing community as well as an avid outdoors woman. This paddle celebrating Bethany also happened to be the same weekend I received my brand new Tarpon 140; I like to think  it was meant to be.

That Saturday morning I woke up to the sound of rain pouring down on my roof- not the best thing to wake up to the day of a tournament. So I got up, made breakfast, poured some coffee and decided to wait out the storm. Once I thought the worst hadOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA passed I made my way to the launch. When I arrived there was a slight NE wind and no rain so I set out for a short paddle to test the water.

I set off in my spankin’ new Tarpon and decided to start fishing. Unfortunately the fish didn’t have the same goal as I did that day! With an hour left until weigh in I decided it was time to get grinding and really go after some fish. After my first small trout I was able to hook onto a solid 27″ red and get him up next to my kayak. That little guy put up a fight! The drag was screaming and my grip was tightening until the red reached an oyster bed and was able to cut my line. Oh well!  Ten minutes later I hooked another and after a short fight he popped my line. I quickly jotted down my notes and made my way to the boat ramp for weigh in. This one was a small trout weighing about 4.36 lbs causing me to miss the leader board. Some you win and some you lose- that’s fishing for you! I told myself there’s always another tournament and packed my gear.

Although my fishing may have been less than fantastic I can not say the same about my kayak. I have been kayaking for over 10 years and I gotta say, my Tarpon is one of the best i’ve paddled. You can’t beat the seat that is on this yak- especially if you need a little extra support for your back. It tracks great, is easy to paddle, and has plenty of storage. The paddle is especially easy when I use my AT Fishstix Paddle. The only thing I would change about this paddle is the color- I’d like AT to make it in Desert Camo to match my yak! Let’s just say the gear didn’t disappoint me like the fish that day!

Overall, the Bethany Wine Scholarship Fund Tournament was a wonderful way to celebrate Bethany’s life and enjoy my new kayaking gear.

Tight lines,

Donald Drabek, ACK Wilderness Systems Ambassador