Finding fun when the pressure builds

I’m a very competitive person.  If I show up on tournament day, I’m going to do everything I can to win.  Sometimes, though, I have to understand that my everything just isn’t enough. Years ago, in what seems like another life, I played competitive golf.  One summer, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend a junior golf camp at the University of North Carolina, and part of this camp was working with a sports psychologist.  Perhaps the biggest lesson I took away from this camp was moving on from a bad shot.  I learned that nothing good comes from dwelling on the previous mishit, misread, or other bad execution.  No amount of anger or disgust will change what just occurred, and the only way to recover is to focus on future execution. Much of this same advice applies to fishing, especially in a tournament setting.  Dwelling on the missed hooksets, the lost fish, or the misplaced casts will not put fish in the livewell or on the measuring board.  We must learn from it, build on it, and move on. At the end of May, I was blessed to be able to fish the 2nd Hobie Bass … Continue reading

First event of the year, a lesson in adaptation

This past weekend I was finally able to participate in my first tournament of the year.  This event, put on by Yak Freaks, was on Tucker Lake (aka Springs Valley Lake), located inside the Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana.  The lake is 110 acres and electric motor only.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  Very little information could be located about the lake and I had no topographical map available. I was thankful that the tournament director, Chad Brock, met with me at a gas station on the way so that I could follow him the rest of the way to the lake, as this lake is buried pretty deep in the forest via winding roads and huge hills.  My central Indiana Trailblazer wasn’t sure what all those hills were! Once we got on the water, I had decided to pedal my Hobie Pro Angler to the dam.  History has taught me that I can bang a squarebill off the chunk rock of a dam and put a few in the boat, so I figured this was a good way to get my day started.  As I approached the dam, though, I was disappointed to see that it was a … Continue reading

A busy September

The first Friday in September had me heading to southern Indiana to join the Evansville Kayak Anglers at a small lake known as Lynnville Lake.  I knew nothing about the lake prior to arrival late Friday night, other than hearing that it was very clear water and had an abundance of small fish. My plan was to start out early in the morning fishing topwater.  I rigged up a Lake Fork Tackle Magic Popper the night before.  As daylight broke and we headed out onto the water, I didn’t peddle far before I just couldn’t pass up water I was passing.  So I stopped near a point full of vegetation and began working the popper over top of the submerged vegetation along the lines where the weeds were exposed.  A few casts in and I was on the board with one of the infamous 9-10″ bass loaded up in this lake.  I was excited that this pattern was working, as we all know that there’s not much more exciting time on the water than when the fish are attacking topwater.  And attacking they were.  Over the course of the day, I caught 30+ fish on this Magic Popper.  When the bite … Continue reading

GoPro on-the-water battery solution

Many fishermen have really taken to using action cams to chronicle their adventures.  One look at my YouTube channel and you’ll see that I sit squarely in that category and rarely go on an outing without my GoPro Hero2. I’ve been doing it since I began this kayak fishing adventure I’m on and have convinced many of my fishing friends to acquire their own GoPros.  One concern that always comes to the surface is the battery life.  For many who use these action cams, an hour and a half of battery life is generally sufficient.  However, for us fishermen, we need more.  We need to start the camera and let it run throughout the day.  Sure, remotes and apps are great, but if you’re waiting for the right time to turn the camera on, you’re going to be too late and miss that fish catch.  Additionally, enabling the wifi/bluetooth radios on these cameras will decrease the battery life. Most of the time, we spend 5-8 hours at a time on the water.  When comparing the battery life of many of the action cams on the market right now, none of them will last that long on a single charge.  So, regardless … Continue reading

Portside Marine’s Hobie Fishing Tournament Wrapup

When setting out for this event, I was concerned with how tough the bite would be.  A cold front had just moved through, and most of us figured it would be quite a grind to find some fish.  16 anglers were pre-registered for this event on Morse Reservoir near Noblesville, IN and 13 showed up to battle it out for this second event hosted by Portside Marine and Hobie Fishing.  The morning was chilly and breezy with a slight threat of rain showers, so we were all bundled up before the launch but ready to take on the day. Special thanks to for the awesome video from launch.  Man, I need a Phantom drone for my GoPro! I started out throwing a spinnerbait for a while with no luck.  I slowed it down and threw my standard plastics trying to entice a bite, also with no luck.  I moved to throwing a squarebill crankbait, banging it off of the scattered rock, and that seemed to be the ticket.  Soon I had 3 on the board, though nothing of size.  I covered a lot of water, lost my original crankbait when it got stuck under a rock and wouldn’t come … Continue reading

Cold water, pike, and a 2nd place finish, oh my!

This past weekend I headed north to MIchigan to compete in my third tournament of the season in as many states.  You may recall my first tournament of the year was in Kentucky at the Bluegrass Yakmasters Open on Cedar Creek Lake.  My second tournament was the Central Indiana Kayak Anglers/Heroes on the Water Crossroads Kayak Clash on Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Indiana, in which I did check in a single 13.75″ fish on a very tough day of fishing. This particular tournament was hosted by Gull Lake Marine, a Hobie dealer on Gull Lake near Richland, Michigan.  This was a slam-style tournament with 2 biggest pike, 2 biggest bass, and 2 biggest panfish counting towards the total inches, though not all groups were required.  I’m almost exclusively a bass fisherman, so I was nervous about placing well in this format, but I figured inches would be built up by pike and figured that if I could find them I could catch them with traditional bass lures that imitate baitfish. I did my normal preliminary planning, analyzing topographical maps and gathering as much knowledge about the lake as I could without being there. Figuring that the fish would be transitioning … Continue reading

First Impressions: Hobie Pro Angler 14

For 2014, I’m honored to be a part of the Hobie Fishing Team representing Hobie and Portside Marine Sales in Westfield, Indiana.  Hobie practices grassroots marketing, encouraging its dealers to have staff anglers to promote the sport of kayak fishing and Hobie’s amazing line of fishing kayaks.  To say I’m excited about this season and this opportunity would be a tremendous understatement. Many many thanks to Portside Marine and to Hobie. As I mentioned in my previous article, I finally got to sink my teeth into a Hobie kayak, a Mirage Pro Angler 14 provided as my demo boat for the season.  I was certainly not disappointed in this kayak despite my inability to locate any fish during the tournament.  In an effort to explain to my family how great this kayak was, I used the analogy that it’s like going from a rusty old bicycle to a Ferrari for daily commuting duties.  I’ll try to break down the reasons I feel this way. Rigging As kayak anglers, we’re constantly making modifications to our boats to add accessories for use while on the water. Even with purpose-built items such as track systems from companies like YakAttack, we still have to … Continue reading

One down, many to go

This past weekend, April 4th through the 6th, I was able to open up the 2014 kayak fishing tournament season by travelling south with my buddy Aaron to Cedar Creek Lake Kentucky for the first tournament in the Bluegrass Yakmasters Tournament Series.  It’s difficult to explain how amazing this experience was.  It was definitely full of “ests”. Farthest This was the farthest I’ve traveled for the sole purpose of fishing.  From home, to Indianapolis to pick up Aaron, to Danville Kentucky where the host hotel was located was just over 250 miles each way.  I was very nervous about how my Harbor Freight trailer would handle it, but it performed flawlessly hauling my Hobie Pro Angler 14 the entire weekend. Quickest As part of the 2014 Hobie Fishing Team, Portside Marine Sales in Westfield provided me with a Hobie Pro Angler 14.  I was able to pick this up on Wednesday, April 2, just a few short days prior to leaving for the Cedar Creek Lake event.  This, along with all of the other packing and planning I had to do for the trip, made this the quickest rigging and setup job I’ve done.  Much of this was made possible … Continue reading

Quick look back and 2014 Fish-olutions

2013 was an amazing year for me. I grew a tremendous amount as a kayak angler.   The “angler” part of this is likely the most important, and I certainly feel like I’ve improved my technique and tactics when it comes to finding and catching fish.  I finally added jerkbaits to my repertoire, gaining confidence by catching new personal best smallmouth twice in the same day. The “kayak” part of this, though, is a bigger source of the feeling of accomplishment for me.  I’ve gained a tremendous amount of confidence in my ability to handle my 12 foot long plastic boat in many different situations.  I’ve tackled big reservoirs with heavy boat traffic and survived near misses with boaters (and even a helicopter) on a river.   All of these situations had me very nervous in playing out the scenarios in my head, but I’ve proven to myself that I am capable of handling them safely without my day of fishing being ruined.  Additionally, my confidence in boat control and positioning has grown, making me feel certain I can get to where I think I need to be in order to catch fish.  Part of this is learning to utilize … Continue reading

Here comes winter

Cold weather has rolled in and seems to be here to stay.  While this doesn’t necessarily indicate bad fishing, it definitely puts limits on those of us fishing from kayaks. This puts me in a mode where I’m trying to plan for next year in a futile attempt to feed the itch from lack of fishing.  I’m attempting to help our local Hobie dealer, Portside Marine, in planning for their 2014 tournament season.  We’ve hashed out a few ideas and we’re definitely early in the planning stage, but it’s looking to make for an exciting year for competitive kayak fishing in central Indiana! Additionally, I’ve hit the drawing board to begin work on a turnkey web-based tournament management solution.   My goals are to allow tournament coordinators a single location to publish their events, accept registrations online, manage weigh-ins, and publish results.  I’ve already got a considerable amount of time wrapped up in this, and it’s far from finished, so one of the concerns at this point has been monetizing this project.  I believe I’ve decided to follow the value-for-value model popularized by the No Agenda podcast, and leave payment for utilization of the system up to those using it by … Continue reading