Fishing Chronicles with Branches’ Team Members

A few of Bending Branches’ Ambassador and ProStaff team members generously shared a recent kayak fishing story with us. We hope these inspire you for your next angling adventure, too!

A Trophy Peacock Bass

Regional Ambassador, Bill Sikora, has been kayak fishing since 2004, and especially loves fishing the canals of South Florida where he lives.

Bending Branches' regional ambassador, Bill Sikora

Here he shares a recent landing of his favorite fish:

“Living in South Florida has afforded me the opportunity to be a short drive away from a variety of different species, both fresh and saltwater. My absolute favorite to fish for is the Peacock Bass. Recently, I learned of a hidden spot in Miami, and I decided to take the trip. That day I also planned on filming for a YouTube video explaining some of the basic techniques I use to fish for Peacock Bass. Seeing how this was my first time to this spot, I was actually going to be using these techniques.

“During my exploration, I found a cut off of the main canal and made my way back into it, and off of this cut was a small creek with some fallen timber. I had seen some bait busting on the surface and quickly grabbed my topwater outfit, got into position, and made the cast. A few quick jerks of my topwater lure and BOOM...probably one of the biggest freshwater hits I have personally experienced.

“When I landed the Peacock Bass, it was very close to being my personal best, and just absolutely gorgeous! I was so fortunate to be on the water that day, which is exactly why I am a kayak angler. These are the moments I fish for!”

(You’ll find the video Bill made that day here.)

The Joys of a Light Paddle

Regional Ambassador, Rob Wright, first discovered kayak fishing in 2016 in his native Michigan, and has been obsessed with it ever since.

Bending Branches regional ambassador, Rob Wright

This story emphasizes why the paddle makes a difference:

“Earlier this spring I had taken a few days off of work to go chase some smallmouth in a lake near my house. The only roadblock with the body of water I chose to fish was the only place you can launch is basically in marshlands. Not that big of a deal, but the paddle to get into the channel that leads to the main lake was quite the hike.

“Luckily the lightweight make and durability of the Angler Classic made that paddle through the cheese mats and pads a breeze. It did not fatigue my arms or drain my energy by the time I made it to the main part of the lake.  

“One of many reasons why Bending Branches paddles are the best around—I was able to reach my destination without exerting a massive amount of energy, and was able to get on some awesome springtime smallies!”

A 20-Inch River Smallie…Twice!

Ohio native and Bending Branches Regional Ambassador, Brad Hicks, loves fishing for river smallmouth bass. One of his 2021 highlights was catching an elusive 20-incher…twice!

Bending Branches Regional Ambassador, Brad Hicks

Here’s his story:

“I did a float with my friend in July of 2021. I hooked onto smallmouth. When it jumped I got a really good look at it, and instantly knew it was a 20-inch fish. I ended up losing it during the fight, just 5 feet from the kayak. Losing that fish ate at me, so I had to go back and try to redeem myself!

“We hit the same float again a month later, in August. I went to the exact same spot and started fishing the same depth where I had hooked this true river trophy. After a few minutes fishing the spot, I hooked into it again on a Tokyo rig and Missile Baits’ D-Bomb. This time I landed the fish after an epic fight with lots of thrashing on the surface of the water.

“I went nine years without catching a single smallmouth over 20 inches and in 2021 alone I did it twice. The second one was much more meaningful to me since I was able to go back to the same spot and hook into it again!”

Kayak Angler vs. Alligator

Jeff Jones is a member of Bending Branches’ ProStaff team who’s been kayak fishing since 2010 in the Gulf Coast region of the southeast United States.

Bending Branches ProStaffer, Jeff Jones

He shared his story of an alligator encounter in Herbie’s Creek, one of his local favorite spots:

“Earlier this year, I paddled up one of my favorite creeks in search of tarpon on a fly rod. This creek isn't on any map, it's just one of those magical places that hold great fishing for the adventurous angler who isn't unnerved by the potential of massive spiders, snakes and other creepy critters.

“On this particular adventure I was in my Vibe Skipjack 90, a 9-foot kayak that excels in tiny creeks. After a somewhat easy paddle of a mile or so into a remote pine forest, that uneasy feeling set in as a massive gator, 10 feet long at least, slid off the bank and blocked my path up creek.

“The worst part about this? The gator was an escapee from a nearby alligator farm that specializes in hand feeding massive gators. They're easily identifiable by the notches cut into the tail of these "pet" reptiles.

“Knowing that this one wasn't a typical gator really made me weigh my options: 1. Take a chance and paddle to where two creeks join and have a potentially amazing day fly fishing, or 2. Wimp out and go home.

“With dancing fish on my mind, I charged forward hoping to avoid any conflict. For a few hundred yards things were going smoothly. The gator was swimming up creek about the same speed I was paddling. Then it went under and I couldn't see it anymore. Things turned for the worse when the gator surfaced a few feet in front of my kayak, turned and sprayed me with water as it charged forward. ‘Not bad…maybe it's hanging out on the bottom now,’ I tried rationalizing.

“I dug deep and paddled hard trying to outrun the dinosaur, when seemingly out of nowhere it popped up immediately to my left and tried taking a bite out of my Navigator blade. You see, this gator farm feeds their gators marshmallows for the crowd, so to them splashing means food. I know the bite wasn't an assault on me, but just the gator thinking I was throwing mallows to it.

“Whatever, I was still freaked out and paddling like a maniac! I finally outran the gator, or maybe it just lost interest in me. I made it to the creek convergence. Cast after cast caught fish. I was easily approaching a few dozen catches when out of a deep lie, a large predator took the fly, and ran straight into a brush pile. After fighting tangles and branches, I finally got the fish to hand. It was a big largemouth. Maybe not a giant by many standards, but for a 4-weight rod, a 12-foot wide creek and a scary encounter, to me, it was a trophy!”

Let us help you choose your next kayak fishing paddle! Get in touch with our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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