Kayak Fishing can be a humbling experience...
Fishing can be one of the most humbling sports as conditions and fish behavior change daily or even hourly. One day you can be catching fish everywhere you go and the next day you might wonder if there's a bass left in the lake.
So my story of the Midwest Kayak Fishing Series is not one of glamour or fame but one of being humbled and cherishing the community that has developed through the years. There were some who had huge success yesterday and many more that were humbled as well with various mishaps during the day. The morning sky looked awesome for fishing and conditions were ripe for a banner day of fishing by all 45 participants.
At the start many of us took off like we after black Friday store specials! I paddled my Bending Branches Pro Angler paddle as hard as I could for about a mile and a half to a spot I knew a Hawg would be lurking….I arrived first and the spot had not been casted upon…sure enough…the second cast proved to be right…a giant bass surged through the water making a huge wake and hit my frog with a vengeance coming right at me! I didn’t even have time to set the hook and it got just under my kayak..this one looked big! I got the net ready and the bass came up, swirled and…well…detached itself from the hook like more fish would do to me later in the day. I was totally frustrated (as other kayakers heard me from a distance) when I lost this nice fish.
I regained my focus and started casting the frog again with another huge blowup within a minute. Sure enough, lost this one too! I then headed south thinking Plan B was next. I paddled to a proven channel only to find the pike had infested these waters. There were two others there and all three of us landed pike. I then headed to a rocky shoreline and found an 8 incher. As I passed by other kayakers I found the bite was very slow so I downsized my lures thinking that a more vulnerable target might be the answer to getting more strikes. I was right but still kept losing fish.
After heading clear to the south end of lake I fished a proven ledge only to find an acrobatic bass going from 14 foot down to three feet above the water smiling at me while he spit the lure. At this point I still had one fish on the board with three hours gone. I headed to the dam and picked up one more but no other strikes. I then headed back to the original channels back north and found some strikes and had fish on but lost them all. One more ditch effort in the last hour got me two more for a total of four fish. I fished hard until the final minute but still came up short by one. Just one more fish would have put me easily into the top 5 for the season where I had finished the two previous seasons.
All day I thought of the humbling feeling when you lose those fish that will help with your placing but at the same time I thought about how fun it was just to be out there. Meeting and talking with other kayak fishermen, sharing stories, tips, and even an anchor! (Thanks Jon Moore!) The kayak community is unlike any other fishing community out there. I have made life-long friends who are just as passionate about kayak fishing as me and are there to help whenever needed. They come from all walks of life and all are encouragers to others. I never dreamed kayak fishing would be like it is today when I started. It is really cool to see those we fished with or guided several years ago out there competing in these challenges. The challenges might seem like they are against others but really, they are against the fish and figuring out how to catch them. That is the fun in it…figuring out a pattern…boating the fish..and then getting them to take a photo shoot. Each time out is a learning experience that entices us to go out again and again.
The best part of this series was getting out on the water with my son CJ who loves to fish. We had so many adventures together and I cherish each one of them. The Midwest Kayak Fishing Series is an outstanding event run by an awesome staff. It was started by a good friend Raf Vargas who is serving our country down in Guam right now. Please keep him and our other servicemen in your prayers. His passion for this series still thrives today by Mike and Dawn Brindisi of Select Sail and Sports and the famed Workman brothers, Kevin, Josh, and Caleb. Thank you to all of the sponsors. Thank you all for your contributions to this awesome sport of kayak fishing! And congrats to all the winners who were relentless in their efforts to succeed. Competing with the very best of kayak anglers in the Midwest is truly an honor! Also, congrats to James Francis who is an incredible kayak fisherman and also a serviceman in the Air Force defending our country.