Kayak Fishing the San Marcos River, a Personal Best

Ryan, assistant manager at ACK San Marcos, headed out for a day of bass fishing with Grant on the San Marcos River. Little did he know it would turn into a personal best!

Start to the day
Cold start to the day – 28 degrees at launch!

Grant and I started things off planning our trip based on the forecast. We typically like to be on the water at or before sunrise but this time decided to launch at 8:30. The reason being was that it was supposed to be partly cloudy until about 10 am, when the wind was supposed to shift to the North East and the sun was supposed to come out. The sun was the key. Leading up to the trip, it had been very cold, very windy and cloudy. After not seeing the sun for days I knew those river bass would be hungry!

Statistically in Texas all of the biggest bass are caught in the month of January and I knew this beforehand so we decided to forego the fly rods and bring out the conventional tackle. We were targeting river bass of all species but it seemed like all of the Lunker Large Mouths were in a feeding frenzy.  Less than ten minutes after launching I landed the first fish, a 13 inch large mouth. I had a feeling it was going to be a good day.

About a half mile downstream I hooked into something good and she took off. I fought her for about two minutes before going airborne and spitting my lure right back in my face. She was easily a four pound largemouth that I had lost! I was already kicking myself at losing my one opportunity at a big river bass. It seemed to be a reoccurring theme for my trips. Little did I know this was not going to be my only opportunity… not by a long shot.

Ryan with his personal best large mouth bass.
Ryan with his personal best large mouth bass.

I was still beating myself up after losing the last fish as we were approaching the first section of water that is shallow and swift moving. I casted to a spot behind a rock that was in less than three feet of water and in a nice sunny spot and it was no more than 12 feet away from my boat. I tried to move my bait and thought I was hung on the rock so I paddled a little bit closer. As I did so the so called “rock” I had hooked took off with blazing speed. Instinctively I ripped my rod back at the right angle and set the hook.  Seconds later the biggest bass I have ever laid eyes on in person surfaced and jumped almost completely out of the water trying to throw my hook and she was less than three feet from my kayak! I knew this fish would be a new personal best for me so I HAD to land it! Normally when I hook into a fish of this caliber and I know I have a good hook set I just sit back and hold on. Some people refer to this as a sleigh ride but I like to put my own twist on it and call it a Central Texas Sleigh Ride.

Where I hooked up with this Lunker was going to take much more finesse than just holding on. I hooked her in moving water, in a large Eddy that was about 10 feet long by 10 feet wide, just big enough to fit my Moken 10.  The rock she was hiding behind and another rock approximately 7 feet down river formed this Eddy and immediately after the farther rock the river gets real shallow, I am talking 8 inches at most. So I knew if I did not keep her in the Eddy that she would get so beat up on the rocks going down river she might not make it. Over half the battle was keeping her in the eddy, when she would try to break out I would use my weight and the weight of the boat to keep her inside. During the whole fight we did not move more than six feet from where I hooked up because every time I brought her back into the Eddy she would hit that Eddy line and we would go in a circle. It seemed like she spun me around 10 times or so but in reality it was probably closer to 3 or 4 times.  Finally landed her and let out a yell of triumph! Needless to say Grant and I were in awe of this Behemoth of a River Large Mouth! She was 7 pounds on the nose and just under 25 inches in length.  We took lots of pictures and released her safely to keep those Big Bass genes in the River.

Ryan with his second big bass of the day of kayak fishing the San Marcos River.
Ryan with his second big bass of the day of kayak fishing the San Marcos River.

After that I felt like I was done for the day and we were not even a 1/3 of the way through our trip! Pretty hard to top your personal best! Feeling rather accomplished with my feat I began to fish much more lazily and was trying to put Grant on a nice fish because I fish the San Marcos much more than he does. Just over an hour after catching my personal best I hooked into another nice one.

I yelled over to Grant, “Got a good one on, it’s at least 4 pounds.” Just as I finished my sentence she jumped and I saw a gaping mouth wide open facing me. I remember saying “Well, Grant its way bigger than four,” to which his responded, “You have got to be kidding me!” I hooked this one in open water so she towed me around 40 yards or so and then I landed her! 6 pounds on the nose after quickly measuring with my Boga Grips! Two of the three biggest river bass I have ever caught in one day!  I remember asking Grant over and over “was that real?” “Did I really just catch a 7 pound bass out of the river….and then an hour later catch a 6 pounder?” I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! At the very end of the trip I hooked up with a 5 pounder but lost it after short fight but I could not complain!

After it was all said and done I had caught over 20 pounds of bass by myself including three different species: Large mouth, Small Mouth, and Guadalupe. It was the best day I have had on the River yet!

Kayak Fishing San Marcos with Assistant Store Manager Ryan Schaper

Written by San Marcos Assistant Manager Ryan Schaper

All loaded up for a great day of kayak fishing!
All loaded up for a great day of kayak fishing!

Having the opportunity to work at an outdoor retailer like ACK gives us, the employees, many awesome opportunities to learn about and use products so that we can better understand how they work and relay that information to you, the customer. One of the biggest opportunities is what’s called a Go Play day, where we get to leave the store, office or warehouse for the day and pick up a paddle (or whatever other outdoor gear we most feel like ‘playing’ with).

For my first ever Go Play day, I decided to take a typical kayak fishing day trip down the beautiful, clear, spring-fed San Marcos River, approximately 5 ½ miles of paddling. My target species, bass. The neat thing about river bassin is you can catch 4 species of bass in one water body including: large mouth, small mouth, Guadalupe, and the occasional rock bass.

The boat that I own and use way too much is a Moken 10 standard. Not the fastest of boats but very stable, so stable in fact I stand close to 90% of the time I am fishing on it. The reason I like to stand is I can see much better, cast much farther, and, with the lures I am typically using, the hook set ratio goes way up while standing.  Other than my kayak, there are many things that I use every time I go kayak fishing but the three things I would like to showcase and are arguably the most important are my Boga grips, paddle and sunglasses.

The Boga Grips in action.
The Boga Grips in action.

Boga grips are an amazing pair of fish grips that simultaneously double as a very accurate scale. Once you get your fish on the Bogas, it will not be coming off until you hit the release. As you can see from the picture they are safer for both you and the fish. They allow you to safely handle the fish and you can easily pull it through the water, allowing the fish to regain oxygen and lost strength from your fight. Once the fish has recovered hit the release and it will swim on it way.

My paddle is also very important to me and is something I most definitely never leave home without. I own a fiberglass Shuna paddle from Werner Hooked which I choose because it has a wider blade and with the Moken being so wide it allows me to move more water, especially while standing because I am not able to get the blade as deep.  Compared to my old cheap paddle the Werner makes a world of a difference. I hear the argument often from guys stating that they would rather have a cheaper heavier paddle because they want to get more of a “workout.” That is not necessarily true; a higher end paddle makes you more efficient on the water and allows a higher cadence which provides a better workout. My Shuna has bailed me out more times than I can count. For example fishing a river you are always dealing with current and I tend to catch my bigger fish either in or very close to heavy current.  With my Werner paddle I can get in sometimes 2 to 3 more casts than I could previously with my low end paddle because I know with 2-3 swift strokes of the Shuna I can easily change the direction of my boat in preparation for going down or getting sucked into a heavy rapid.

One of my bass for the day!
One of my bass for the day!

The final pieces of equipment that I NEVER leave home without on any day of the week are my Costa Del Mar Sunglasses. I cannot stress enough the importance of good sunglasses.  I own the Black Fin frames with the 580 G green lenses.  I have the green lenses because I am predominantly fishing clear water but they are many lenses options for different water bodies.  These glasses reduce glare off the water dramatically and even allow you to see through the water! Depending on conditions I can sometimes see more than 8 feet under the water! This helps drastically because I can determine varying depths in the water and occasionally even see the fish and sight cast to them.  The biggest bass pictured here was one that I actually saw his tail sticking out from under a rock ledge 4 feet under the water, casted to him and the fight was on! The fish was over 19 inches and over 3 lbs on the Boga grips!

When the day was over I had caught and released over a dozen bass ranging from 10 to 19 inches in length and 3 different species. Overall was a great fishing day on the San Marcos River!

Dreaming of a Texas Water Safari

Every year, about this time, I start thinking and dreaming about attempting the Texas Water Safari.  It’s a ridiculously challenging 260-mile kayak/canoe race to the Gulf of Mexico from the central Texas area on the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers. I’m fascinated by the race and the people that compete in it. I like to think that someday I could be stepping up to the start line down on the San Marcos river and giving it a go. Right now I need to get myself in some other shape than round to even think about it though. I feel like I would have to have a partner as well, I’m crazy enough to try it but probably not crazy enough to deal with the voices in my head. Chris @ACK

Drive By Paddler

Where are they going?

I’ve been making the drive to Houston to visit our store for so long now that I’ve begun to develop stories and relationships with the towns and sites I see. It’s funny the things I notice and don’t notice while I drive. I get to cross the Brazos river when I take the 290 route. When I take the 71 route I get to see the Colorado river. I’m always looking for a paddler during that brief moment that I am crossing but assume people are probably at work. It’s nothing like the view in downtown Austin where it’s pretty much a paddlers paradise in either direction — all the time. Then there is the San Marcos River when I visit our store down in that area. I often see people paddling. Do you look when you pass a body of water? Do you check out kayaks on other peoples roof racks when they pass and come up with stories about where they might be headed? I sure do. – Chris @ACK

ACK hosts a Kayak Outing for the Texas Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance Convention

ACK Brings the Fleet!

ACK San Marcos recently had the privilege of hosting an outing for the 2011 TAPHERD convention. TAPHERD (Texas Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance) is committed to the development of knowledge and programs that promote active, healthy lifestyles, enhance skilled and aesthetic motor performance for those employed in public or private education.

Educating the Group on Paddling

ACK provided kayaks and gear for a guided trip down the San Marcos River from City Park to Rio Vista Park and back. The turnout was great and everyone had a nice time. While many folks had some paddling experience, we also had the opportunity to get some first timers into the water. All in all it was a beautiful day to be out on the water, and ACK enjoyed hosting this outing for our TAPHERD friends.

Looking forward to the next one!

ACK San Marcos

A Happy Group of Paddlers on the San Marcos River

Event Recap: San Marcos River Clean-Up

Preparing For the Clean Up

We recently participated in the 25th Annual Great Texas River Clean-Up (San Marcos River Clean-Up). Folks from all over Texas joined forces in what is known as the world’s longest river clean up. People were cleaning up the entire length of the San Marcos River (approximately 90 miles). The section of river we took part in cleaning was from Fentress to Prairie Lea 1 (2 miles) with the Spring Woods Canoe Group.

Kayaks are helpful when trying to reach hard to get items

Despite waking up to chilly 20mph winds we battled the elements to do our part in river conservation. The kayaks we chose this for this trip included the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 and Tarpon 100 for their high point of view, tracking and nimbleness for navigating through the tight waters caused by fallen timber and other debris.

It seemed to be an endless battle but we did our best to clean up empty cans, bottles and other trash, filling up trash bag after trash bag. We had very little room left in the kayaks for the over 100 feet of deserted trot and limb lines, many of which had rusted hooks still attached. These lines were camouflaged with moss and grass, just waiting for the unsuspecting swimmer to get tangled up in.

By the end of our excursion we had more trash than energy but still managed to fill up the remaining space in our bags. It will be a never-ending process but we finished feeling confident that it was a job well done. We look forward to next year’s event!

ACK San Marcos