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Group Paddling

The intrinsic reasons for paddling are many and most likely differ from paddler to paddler. Whether it’s the sights, sounds and smells, the exercise or just being “one” with nature- paddling is a beautiful activity and one that brings out true passion for many who partake.

This is one reason group outings on the water are so cool. When people get together to share a passion they have in common it truly creates a special bond between those people. No matter what walk of life you come from, no matter what your day-to-day life is like compared to the next person, when you’re out on the water together you are all one. A tiny, moving piece within the enormity of nature and it’s endless beauty. The comradery that can develop during a group paddling outing is wonderful and the memories can be those that will last a lifetime.

Yes, while there is something to be said about the serenity and peacefulness of being out on the water alone, there is an equal importance and beauty to sharing that experience with others who share your appreciation.

So, if you’ve yet to undertake a group paddling excursion, you should really consider it. As a helpful starting point, those great folks at have put together a list of some guidelines to consider when planning for group paddling.

So take a look, make some calls to your friends and other passionate paddlers (perhaps even a newbie or two-- and set off on a group adventure this paddling season!

Dealing with Mosquitoes

In the camping/outdoors world, there are few things more annoying than dealing with mosquitoes. In fact, if I were to pick a form of torture from an outdoorsman perspective the two that come to mind would be placing a wood tick on somebody, telling them you did so, but not telling them where it is located! One could watch them as they tried to feel where it might be only to find that it now it feels like there are 1000 wood ticks crawling on their skin, so then they would have to remove clothing and visually scour their body for the unwelcome guest. "Just give us the information Mr. Bond and we'll tell you where the wood tick is!"

The other "water boarding-esque" nature related torture would be the unwelcome mosquito while trying to get some sleep. Especially when one is confined to a sleeping bag.

Anyone who has ever camped out surely can recall a time or two (or more) when they lay in their sleeping bag, exhausted from the day and just as they are about to drift off, they hear that sound. The high pitch, soft buzzing only the wonderful mosquito can make. Truth be told, the sound itself wouldn’t be a problem, except for the Pavlovian response of anxiety we have developed when hearing it knowing that when the buzzing stops….that’s when you know the bite, itch and irritation is not far behind. (For those not in the know about conditioned responses check out the educational and famous- yet not overly exciting experiment here involving Pavlov and his dogs.

So, while the weather is finally warming (for real this time right?)....we turn to talk of paddling trips, camping and some even start their first of a multitude of lists to help them prepare for the adventures that lie ahead.

So, back to mosquitos. What can be done to reduce the chance that these stinger led scavengers ruin your paddling and camping experience?

As with most things, there are many opinions and we’ll just give you a few ideas you might want to try.
You’ll notice that store bought bug repellent is not on the list. This is for two reasons. First, DUH! Not a very helpful article if all it gives you is advice to “buy some bug dope with deet”. Thank you Captain Obvious!

Secondly, the most important ingredient in most bug repellents is deet and deet is not a very nice chemical- for your skin or your clothes, so we’ll give you some alternatives to the old throwback. However, if push comes to shove and your options are mosquito infestation and deet…...well, go camping in mosquito country once without anything and you’ll see. (or hear and feel).

Ok, so here are some random ideas to help you defend against these offensive little suckers.

  • Alternative Repellent- Rub your skin with the inside of an orange peel.
  • Treatment- Use any toothache gel medicine (like Orajel) to stop the itching if bitten.
  • Tenting- If possible, fact tent door into the wind as mosquitos will tend to stay more on the downwind side of the tent to keep from being blown away.
  • Don’t- use fragrant or scented personal products and try to keep cool because mosquitoes are attracted to sweat.
  • Do- Wear light colored long sleeve clothing and pants.
  • Do- Wear a hat and a bandanna on your head and neck.
  • Don’t- Be blonde. Not avoid being the butt of some horrible jokes, but because studies have actually shown that blonde’s attract more mosquitoes- look it up!
  • Repellent- Avon’s Skin So Soft- nothing scientific here, but many swear by it, some mix it 50/50 with rubbing alcohol.
  • Head Nets – keeps bugs away from your head and face. (Style points do not matter when camping!)
  • Garlic – it will secrete through your pores. (not sure how much you’d need to consume, but also highly recommended when camping in Transylvania!)
  • Zinc or Vitamin B – also secretes through your pores. (quantity needed unknown)
  • Coconut soap and coconut oil – repels mosquitoes. (Plus you’ll smell like a Pina Colada!)
  • Mosquito coils-These coils do wonders inside a vehicle or sleeping area in preparation for bedtime. The smoke is not harmful for humans or pets.
  • Dryer tissues The tissues that you put in the dryer to soften your clothes also help well against mosquitoes. You can rub them over skin and clothes and then just keep them in your pocket and it will keep 60% of the mosquito’s off. (Wouldn’t bet the 401k on the percentage here, but give it a shot and let us know if it’s accurate, I’m sure the experimenter without any protection will have fun!

So there are just a few random samplings of the many, many opinions out there on how to deal with mosquitoes.

Good luck and Happy Paddling!

A Quieter Canoe Stroke

Silence is golden.

As anyone with young children could tell you, the quiet moments are often few and far between. While the sounds of laughter, playing,etc is music to the ears and we all know it won’t be long before it is replaced by them asking for the car keys. So, parents of young ones rarely complain about the noise. The fact that any trip to a supermarket or store of any kind has no chance of bringing any sense of relaxation and anyone in the building will probably know you have arrived is all just part of the plan.
So, when parents can find those moments throughout the day or after the kiddos bedtimes that allow them to sit in peace and quiet- most try and take full advantage of them.

When you are out on the water, there is something to be said about the serenity paddling can bring. In fact, for many, it’s one of the main reasons for partaking in the activity.

If you haven’t taken time to really hone your paddling skills, however, you might be missing out on an even more peaceful journey, as well as causing yourself more of a workout.

All the kayak and canoe fishermen and women out there know first hand how important it is to be able to quietly maneuver their craft. In order to get in on the hot spot, one cannot be slapping their paddle in the water with each stroke like- well, a fish out of water...although the fish would be much obliged!

Yes, a quiet, smooth paddle stroke is beneficial on many levels.

It’s a skill anyone can learn and to get you started on your way, check out the article from our friends at rapidmedia and Joanie McGuffin which covers how to paddle your canoe silently

It’s a simple skill, but one very well worth honing to perfection.

Happy Paddling!

Canoe Terminology

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then that means words are worth 1/1000 of a picture? Seems like words are getting the short end of the deal on that old saying. It’s true that much can be seen/felt,etc by viewing a picture, but when it comes time to communicate your thoughts/feelings about that picture--well, words sure come in handy then!

Most industries, regardless of their niche, possess a vocabulary specific only to them. These industry specific words are not only important when labeling a particular part (for example), but they also provide a way for those within that industry to communicate with each other regarding things specific to that industry.

The paddling industry is no different. While most people, whether familiar with the sport or not, could probably tell you what a paddle, canoe, and lifejacket are (although they may not know what the initials PFD stand for), there’s much more to the paddling industry and it’s lingo.

For those starting out or wanting to learn more, a great activity is to familiarize yourself with some of the terms. This can help you learn things about the industry (like what the different parts and pieces are called and their purpose), which in turn provides you a greater base of knowledge allowing you to better communicate all things paddling with those who share the passion.

Another reason this is a good idea is, well quite frankly, what better way to prep one’s mind for the paddling season? While the calendar says March, the weather outside (at least in most of the midwest) still feels like winter and welcoming open water seems a long way away. So stop thinking about what you’re not able to do and take this time to bone up on your paddling terminology.

To help you with this endeavor, we’re providing a link to a nice Glossary of Canoe Terminology brought to us by our friends at

While not an exhaustive list, it’s a great place to start and can get you on your way to becoming more knowledgeable about paddling.


Paddling a Canoe into a Headwind

The sun is out, the sky is blue, what else in the world is there to do
but grab your boat and paddles too and head for the water, she’s waiting for you.

In your rush for the freedom, the encompassing joy that you get when you’re drifting on top of your toy, you forget to notice something, strange, but it’s true and it’s hard to believe because it’s all around you.

Don't think too hard, dont be afraid to be wrong as this thing is found everywhere and brings it’s own song.

As we wind down the riddle and come to the end of this trip on word water we’ll ask you to send
one slightly damp finger pointed up to the sky not to gloat of great victory but to ask you to try
and to give you a hint that you’re close now my friend so dont be upset or ask us to rescind
this post we just posted regarding….the wind.

OK, definitely not a “pro’s” prose...and there will be no rush to quit the day job. Just thought it would be a fun way to introduce the topic for this week.

How to paddle a canoe into a headwind.

There isn’t a paddler out there who hasn’t had to contend with the gales of mother nature when out on the water so check out this article from our friends at about paddling a solo canoe into a head wind to get some tips on what to try and how to overcome that nasty companion who too often seems set on putting a damper on your day.

Dont let it and here is how!

Happy Paddling!

March Fishing in Texas

Winter is finally breaking in the south and allowing for some manageable days out. Today gave me bluebird skies and some wind (but manageable) on Lady Bird Lake in downtown (yep I said downtown) Austin, TX.

It started pretty cool this morning, and when I hit the water at 9:30am air temp was 46°F - a welcome change, but still a bit cool. By 10:30am I had two fish in the boat - a 16" and a 15" - on the F4 “Hag's Tornado” in watermelon chartreuse, and felt pretty good. The air temp was up to 60°F at that point. The wind shifted from the east to south, and I hit a dry spell. I paddled from the creek toward the bridges in search of deeper water. Water temp in the creek was 68°F. I talked with a buddy who was out fishing for a bit, and the bite was slow for them early as well.

In no hurry today, I monkeyed with the Lowrance “Elite-5 I” just trying to get the settings right. After about an hour I was ready to post it up for sale, but finally got it figured out and the readings were much better. I lost a fish under one of the bridges and couldn't find another, so I paddled further down to a rockpile. The water temp here was 64°F and much closer to what I was looking for. I picked up a few of the new Sebile lipless cranks this week, and decided to give one a shot along the rocks. Third cast and paydirt -18" fish!

I moved a little further down to a drain, and couldn't get the fish to hit the Sebile. I was marking them, so I went back to the Hag's and managed to catch six more fish on this one spot. Two were dinks, and the rest were all 14"+. The spot exhausted, I explored a little more, chatted with some folks who were on the jogging trail about the Commander, and decided to paddle back to the bridges. It was 4pm, the sun was warm, and people were out everywhere. I threw where I broke off earlier and had a hard take. The line popped again after some fighting, and I was done. I put that rod and reel down, and picked up a heavier setup. I let that spot rest and picked up a few 14”-15" fish around some timber on the Hag's. After thirty minutes I went back and pitched the back side of the twice-burned piling. Jackpot! I finally landed the 18" fish.

I worked my way back down the shoreline toward the creek. There were lots of kayaks in there, but no one fishing. I went to my two spots, and picked up two more keepers and a couple of unders. By this point it was almost 6pm and I was getting tired. I paddled across to the launch side and picked up a big jig. Taking a local jig fisherman’s advice, I went black with some red. Ten minutes down the bank I felt a pop-pop-pop on my jig. I reeled down to it and hammered back. This was a fat girl! I was hoping for a twenty-two incher, but she was only 20". The fish was lots of fun to catch, and put on a good show for the joggers.

All in all I caught twenty three fish today. A ton of those came after 2pm. The jig fish and Sebile fish were the only ones not caught on the Hag's today.

Long Winter in Pittsburgh

My first blog post, not too much to say given the climate here in Pittsburgh, PA. It's been a very long winter- the coldest since I've been alive. March is still bringing snow and cold temps and it's almost impossible at this point to find water that isn't frozen solid let along navigable. It's hard to believe time off the water can be put to use but I've been busy ramping up for the year with my group, and trying to get ready for the KBF Open trip. As productive as it's been and as much as I hate sitting in the car due to my lack of patience, driving 11 hours south so I can finally get to fish for a few days is exactly what I need. Tight lines to all and for those heading to the Open, good luck and hope to have a chance to meet you.

Introducing your better half to kayak fishing

It is widely known (or assumed) that kayak fishing is largely a male dominated activity. However, more and more women are becoming involved in the sport. While some are finding their way there by themselves, many others are being introduced to this great sport via their significant others who are already passionate kayak fishermen.

The reason for this introduction could range anywhere from a legitimate desire to share a passion with the one they are most passionate about, to the other end of the pure intent spectrum, where they just hoping for less resistance when wanting to hit the water and go fish.

In either case (though we hope it’s much more often the first reason), bringing that special lady in your life into your world of kayak fishing needs to be done properly.

As with many things in life, sometimes we find out the right way to do something by doing it wrong the first time. Thankfully, one is able to learn from the mistakes others have made before them- and thankfully some of these folks are nice enough to post such information on the internet for all to share!

Take Jay and Ally Brooks, whose story you can read (and mistakes you can avoid) in the article Get Your Girl To Go Fishing .

Jay obviously made a few mistakes when first exposing Ally to kayak fishing. Ally provides some great information to help guys successfully introduce the sport to maximize the likelihood that this shared adventure will continue.

Once that passion is firmly planted into her heart she might end of taking part in a an activity much like the Lady’s Let’s Go Fishing event where a group women who love kayak fishing, nature and conservation get together to learn, fish and bond over their common interests (and gender).

So you can see that kayak fishing is crossing over to include more and more women anglers. So the next time you and your better half are discussing what to do for your next date night or anniversary, etc….why not bring up the idea of a romantic paddle across a calm body of water in hopes of finding the hot spot where the fish are biting?

It’s a great way to get out and share the beautiful outdoors together. As an added bonus, you could offer to cook up whatever you catch for your romantic dinner upon arriving home ---or better yet why wait until home…..shore lunch anyone???

OK, that might work...then again….one step (or paddle stroke) at a time.

Happy Paddling!

Basics of Canoe Rigging.

Knowing how to properly rig your canoe comes down to a couple primary considerations.
First- and by far most importantly- you need to know what type of waters you’re likely to face. Whether it’s a rapid river or a flat lake, knowing the type of water you’re going to experience will help you plan for the rigging technique that will work the best.

Second- the type of gear you are packing and how much of it (big and small) makes a difference too.

As a rule of thumb, if you are traveling in moving water, all your gear should be secured so there is only one thing to recover in case of a capsize instead of a bunch of things. If you’re on a rough lake, there might be other options to consider.

A couple of the basic type of rigs are the gravity and diamond rig.

The first is simplistic (actually involves not tying your gear down) while the second take some doing but brings with it, valuable piece of mind.

To get a further description of these two types, along with pictures and supporting information to help you decide which type of rigging is best for you, check out the canoe rigging 101 article posted on Canoe and Kayak’s website not long ago.

Hopefully this information will reinforce the importance of thinking about the “what if” involving a capsize and how to help you keep it all together (literally) if that happens.

Good luck and happy paddling!

Bending Branches Pro Staffer wins IFA Kayak Tour’s- Angler of the Year Award!!

A great shout out and well deserved congratulations to Brendan Bayard- valued Pro Staffer and kayak fishing extraordinaire on recently being named the IFA Kayak Tour- Angler of the Year !!

As most kayak anglers know, there is a lot that goes into being successful on the water and one of the toughest things to do is be consistently successful. While there is always a little luck involved it’s more true that successful people make their own luck. This is no more true than when talking about Brendan. His dedication and love for the sport of kayak fishing is evident when you read his Pro Staff bio here .

His skill level and the model of consistency he continues to demonstrates in his sport is evident from the success he has on the water.

So while Mardi Gras may be a month away, the party has already begun for Brendan. However, in true sportsman fashion, I’m guessing that instead of being seen on Bourbon Street, you’d have better luck finding him off land- continuing to pursue his passion and doing what he loves to do!

Read more about what Brendan has to say about his accomplishment here .

Way to go Brendan!!


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