Connect Scale….email???

I was sitting in a meeting with some sheet metal vendors, pretending to be a manufacturing engineer instead of an avid angler, discussing costs. It was one of hundreds of meetings I attend in the role that keeps me in food and clothing between (and during) tournaments; during a lull in the details, the subject of fishing came up. Most likely, it was me talking about CAKFG or the KBF trails, but it wasn’t long before we were back to cost, productivity…the exciting stuff (typed with extreme sarcasm).

Anyway, after the meeting a guy came up and asked if I had ever heard of Connect Scale. I told him yes, I had seen it on the social media sites and looked into the product. He told me that his brother in law owned the company and offered me details that I had not learned on my own. He also offered to bring me one of the scales to try out. Funny how our paths cross those of others….

He asked me to tell what I thought about the product. So…

Pros:

The scale connects to an app by Bluetooth technology to record weights against locations.

The packaging is pretty basic and simple to unpack. Included is the scale, two “AAA” batteries, an instruction book, a connect scale sticker and a small fish grip. The batteries are very easy to install, the fish grip attached to the scale without difficulty and the instructions are easy to follow. The digital readout is large and backlit, making it viewable.

Holding the device, it fits pretty comfortably in your hand; it seems some thought went into the design to allow you a better grip with a fish on the grips. Nice!

It has an app that is easily downloaded and connected to the device. The app collects data and give you several ways to look at the data; map locations, by type, by date or all. You can see each catch with the details from the app.

There is even a tournament feature that will let you decide how many fish to track.

Cons:

All of the data that can be collected, cannot be exported to spreadsheets or other documents that would allow a “fisherman’s log” to be created.

There is a ruler on the side, it seems flimsy and cheap; for kayak fishing, not an issue. It could be used a few times before it would most likely quit retracting or become bent and unusable. Note: did no testing to verify this, just feels inadequate for long term use.

The app has features that allow posting to social media, but the Instagram only errors out; saying Instagram is not installed.

Pet Peeve!!!

Since the Instagram feature did not work, I tried contacting product support through the app. Two emails were sent (see attached) with no response. Sorry, but no response at all….

Tonight I received this email….after trying a different address….

Overall:

I would say it is a pretty solid product. Other than the inability to export the data and the tape; pretty cool. Very practical and usable product.

At $79 to $89…May be a bit pricy for some.

I will look forward to the app updates….

Voices and Buzzin’ in my head…

Home from Arkansas and the KBF Grand/Beaver Lakes Open.

I listed Grand Lake first, because the majority of the top finishers were on that lake; most fishing the same area. I chose to fish Beaver Lake – well, I chose to pre fish on Beaver Lake first then asked for some info on Grand Lake and was told only small fish were biting; no real luck (I now know this was inaccurate information)…so I dug deeper into the Bentonville/Beaver area.

My first attempt was to fish out of the Ventris boat ramp. I found 70 plus foot water, marked no real schools of fish….and caught an eight inch small mouth on a 412 Bait Co. free minnow in four hours. Not good. I had read about Beaver, so I searched out other locations (including Grand).

I searched the maps and found the Natural Walk area of War Eagle Creek. It is a road that just ends in the water, but was very easily accessible – and the water was not 70 plus feet deep. It took me two casts to better my catch from the day before; a 12 inch largemouth on a buzzbait. An hour later I had a limit on the same white buzzbait with a chartreuse grub (tail up as always).

I moved around the small cove and caught several more with first a Yamamoto Craw in black w/blue flake, then a Yamamoto Senko in Baby Bass color. I knew that I could most likely catch a limit here for two days…but nothing of any size, so I ventured out into the deeper water.

I never marked a single fish on the points or humps, and watched two bass boats beating the bluffs with jigs; they never boated a single fish. It was a beautiful area, and I feel certain in a different season it would be awesome; but I knew I was getting in trouble, and running out of time.

Then…music started playing…at first, I thought I had become dehydrated to the point that I was delirious – the heat was pretty oppressive…then I heard voices announcing “it was time for the group challenges”. Then music, then voices, then more music….I drank more water…ate a piece of Jerky…more water…then hundreds of voices…more water. It seems I had moved up behind Camp War Eagle, and everyone had pulled themselves out of bed and into some group challenge. At least it sounded like someone was enjoying the Beaver Lake area.

I loaded up my boat, and went for a ride. I looked at the boundaries on Beaver Lake and saw the dam on War Eagle Creek was as far as I could go. By Navionics, I would have been on dry land for a few miles…but I thought maybe I would check it out, then go back to the Four Points Sheraton to get Joy and we could at least spend time there.

I crossed an old bridge, pulled into a parking lot and sat in the cool air being provided by my truck. The water was very shallow once you were twenty feet from the dam….didn’t look good, but I grabbed a rod and waded through the shallow creek to fish against the dam. First cast, fish. Second cast, fish. Third cast…same. Hmmm….

I walked as far downstream as I could, catching a 15 inch bass on the Baby Bass Yamamoto. Maybe?? It was really going to suck pulling my loaded Hobie twenty foot off a hill, then through the 60 to 70 yards of shallow water before reaching the first bend…..then not knowing what lay ahead. But, I was out of options and time and had just blown out my flip flop!

Back at the truck, it seems that Brad Case had found the same spot. We talked a minute with a local guy who told us at the top of the hill was a gate; with a box where you drop two dollars for access. Brad said that was awesome, but where was I going to fish….I took off up the hill, then turned around…I needed change!

We both drove down a rough, tiny road to reach the creek….hmmmmm….it was looking pretty promising.

Fished a couple of hours (sorry Joy, I never made it to the mill with you) and caught another limit just cruising to see what was there. They were small, but I was already almost end of pre-fishing…and we had missed the early bite.

As I left, I noticed the sign said the gate would be locked at 8 p.m. but had no “open” time. So that night, I set my clock for 2:30 to give myself enough time to change locations if the gate was locked….I pulled up around 3:30….it was open. Unloaded the Hobie….still missing my trailer!!!…and sat waiting for launch time. Brad wasn’t there.

Skip details about trying several lures……..first fish came on a Rapala Skitterpop, my favorite small water topwater bait; just shy of 17 inches. I continued with that pattern – throwing into the current at any wood or dark spot in the shallow waters (11 ft the deepest spot) and walking it slowly back to the kayak until 9 in the morning. I caught an 18…but lost another 17 and one that was easily 16 (these would have put me well into the top ten….dang it).

As the sun got high, I went back to the Yamamoto Senko; Baby Bass, then black w/blue flake, a Strike King Bitsy Jig tipped with a Yamamoto Craw (black and blue like my ego)…and erased some twelves on the board.

……….Day Two…..

Caught an early limit, but no size.

Then, I heard a buzzing overhead. Brad had showed up that morning…he had arrived later the day before and had the same luck as me…but what he brought with him was Chad Hoover.

So, I looked up to see a drone zipping down the creek as Chad filmed Brad and the area. It was kinda cool, not going to lie….especially when I caught a monster…ok….a tiny war mouth in front of them, maybe that will not make the video….wish he had been there when I pulled up behind a single tree and caught four 13 plus on four consecutive casts…guess I was not meant to be star!

Anyway, it was a dink fest. All I needed was a few over 15 inches to get into the money….they never came. I caught 20 plus fish, but the water was dropping quick….and then the swimmers showed up. Wading, kayaking or jumping from the bluffs where I had been fishing…..sucked!

I knew that two good days was risky at best, on such a small and shallow section of War Eagle Creek, and I was right. The crappie were biting jigs, the warmouth and sunfish were biting everything else….the bass were a bit shyer.

But…by being able to catch limits both days – by reading the area and understanding my limitations, accepting them and fishing within them for those days on that water – I placed a solid 11th place against over 60 anglers on a body of water I do not know, in hot conditions I would have avoided just two years ago. Guess that will have to do this time….

from Guntersville to the depths of Ky Lake….

Quick story from Guntersville, Alabama….a mediocre performance; it seems my standard for the fishery…then a little about today.

I drove down to Alabama late Friday night, arriving at Mudd Creek boat ramp around 1 a.m. Saturday morning. It was a bit early, so I thought I would catch a quick nap.

At 2 a.m., the sound of a car woke me.

I am going to say there were (maybe) thirty parking spots in the lot, so I was shocked to see the car parking 1 spot away from me, not in the many other choices. Since I had my kayak on the back of my truck, I was a bit nervous…then the car started rocking…and rocking….until a truck pulled in next to the boat ramp.

The car drove off. The truck left. The car came back…more rocking…and rocking….and shocks squeaking…and rocking…

Leave it to the imagination…..but they were not fishing, nor were they there to take my kayak….just sayin.

What they did do, was allow me only an hour of sleep. Anyway…not an excuse, I seem to struggle with the acres and acres of grass at Guntersville – something I have committed myself to correcting.

I did catch 69 and some change inches in a place that some caught only one fish, so I will take that….but AJ at 100+ and others in the 90’s….my launch, lure and technique selection left me far behind the pack and wanting for more.

Something else I had committed myself to do…since I have always dropped to the middle of the pack during the warmer months…the months I don’t understand…is to learn ledges, drop offs, trenches…anything over 5-6 feet of water. I had just not taken the steps.

Now it is funny the things that finally spark us to action.

It all started with my Joy telling me that she noticed I always catch a lot of fish early, but that I seem to struggle during the day. At first I wanted to say “no”, I have awesome skills; but she was right – her and that statistically minded way she looks at things had pegged me. When the sun is high and it is warm, I am out of gas on most waters; especially large impoundments.

I had stored that info and was processing it daily, trying to find solutions.

Seeing guys turn in incredible limits at the Hobie Open, this year and last; Jay Wallen had left the location we shared last year to go fish some deeper water. Eric Siddiqi turning in 60+ inch limits two years running…Anthony Shingler, who I knew was on some deeper structure pulling in a fourth place finish this year.

Then I heard Kristine Fischer (third in this year’s Hobie Open on Kentucky Lake), talk about pedaling across some water seeing fish on the side scan; and then going after and catching them. I had always heard “marking” some fish….but I wondered how in the hell do you drive by and see them on side scan??

Then a 48th place finish at Guntersville…a place where AJ had won fishing deeper water.

I left Guntersville, and got on the phone with Anthony and Will Son.

“Take me out of my comfort zone!”

They agreed to give up some time. There first suggestion was to take me somewhere I knew, I said “hell no, I want to go where I do not understand anything”; so we went far into Kentucky Lake.

The two showed me some features on Navionics, then we pedaled to those locations. I followed behind them, watching and “marking” fish. Then I would back off, turn my kayak…and I see them on side imaging. And all of the sudden, the mystery…the black magic of being away from visible cover, of seeing only miles of flat water…revealed itself to me! Ok, that may be overly dramatic, but once I tossed a drop shot…then a worm…into the water, and pulled out fish!! Next I watched the side scan for “dots”, then again, fish! Nothing large, but fish I would have never caught.

They held my hand and walked me through techniques they use, how they orient themselves….shared the “magic”.

WILL SON WITH A NICE ONE

I have a Lowrance Elite TI 7; an excellent piece of electronics. And I knew it had more capabilities than water temp, or to keep me from running aground, but had never harnessed those abilities. I mean I had used it to find schools of crappie, and had luckily found a bass or two last winter; but primarily, I used it to find shallow stump rows I knew existed in high water, or to find trees. Today, I feel like I grew as an angler…added a new skill (not that I am good at it yet, but I will be!).

MY BEST OF THE DAY

Today…today was a good day…I have been blessed in my life!

…thanks Joy for putting those statistics in my head…and for allowing me to be me…even when me ain’t all that awesome…

…thanks everyone for sharing how you catch fish during the months I have struggled…

…thanks Anthony and Will, for putting up with me and letting me grill you for the hours we spent on the water today…I owe you one…or two…when is ledge 102 scheduled?…

…thank you KBF for giving me the format to compete and challenge myself, and for allowing me to into this community; and for introducing me to all the great folks who share and help us all to be better anglers…

…thanks to Caney Fork for the equipment…and for the new Hobie PA14 – yeah, haven’t talked to you about it yet, but after fishing with Will and seeing the differences on the open water…

Off to look at maps of Beaver Lake…later.

the 2018 Hobie Open…as fished by me.

The sun was not yet up.

Two fish were already on the phone, pics ready for submittal.

Three more had exploded on the $1 white WalMart buzzbait with a chartreuse tail (tail up as always), two coming unpinned after a couple of cranks on the Shimano Sahara mounted on a St. Croix Avid rod.

All five in a spot the size of a truck large pickup truck – nothing of great size – but they were piled high and hungry.

Number 6 crushed the bait. He jumped twice, then a third time directly into the net! The buzzbait became tangled in the net, so I left it.

I pulled the fish from the net – placed the net where the fish would jump into it if trying to escape.

Placed him on the board; put the Hobie Open Day One Identifier on the pedals of my mirage drive as I had done for the first two.

I got the camera ready to take the pic…a limit for the day in no time…it was going to be an awesome day…a great day!

The fish flopped once, twice, then he hit the identifier with his tail in such a way that it appeared to be thrown by a magician performing a trick. I saw it hit the water, then the wind pulled me right on it.

I grabbed my Bending Branches Carbon paddle with one hand (cause I can with that paddle – so light), made one stroke, and could see the identifier swaying back and forth, sinking out of sight.

I dropped the paddle, grabbed my net and made a swipe. This action threw my rod and reel overboard.

The fish had flopped into the net (that is why I put it there), so it went with it all.

Another swipe.

And just like that, day one of the Hobie Open was over for me. I pulled my rod back into the boat.

I called the number on the iAngler email and spoke with Mike Christopher, knowing the result:

“Is my day over?”

But he gave me AJ Mcwhorter’s number just in case.

“Is my day over?”

The rest of the conversation, AJ was extremely apologetic. I told him it was cool, it was on me and I knew…I was just hoping there was some super-secret handshake code that could let me finish the day…I knew the answer before the identifier went out of sight.

My day was over.  I pedaled around a bit, trying to see where I was going through the tears….then left.  Had I fished and had a banner day, I would have been heart broken, so I did not risk it.

I had just pulled the most rookie mistake I had ever made since taking up kayak bass tournament fishing a year and a half ago. I had not secured the identifier, and it was gone.

After pulling to the shore, getting a stick to tie to my net so I could dredge the bottom; I spent the next hour hoping to find the most precious catch of the day.

It never happened.

The good part, I made the drive home…took a quick nap (crying myself to sleep), then a quick shower…then made it to check in knowing I would catch a bit of crap from my friends.

They were not as bad as I thought they might be, but it came from more than I expected.

I deserved it.

Dang it.

Fished day two.

Ended up 29th overall.

The End.

Thanks to Jay Wallen, Will Son, Rebecca Golden, Anthony Shingler, Kirt Pequinot, Terry Bowman, Shane McIntyre and others for being kind enough to remind me what the orange floaty thing with the big Hobie letters on it was for….again….and again….and again….you guys are awesome….#%&?$#?@?$%.

For real though….thanks for laughing along with me, for listening to me. It is really good to see the understanding on your faces. Even with this screw up, with any screw up – or on the good days….the kayak family is there to support you.

One of the reasons I love doing this!

5 YEARS…5K…5000 MILES…

I had just logged over 5000 miles in May attending KBF tournaments in South Carolina, Wisconsin and Florida (not to mention fishing before or after work) when questions were asked of me.

“What do you get out of it?”

I knew what KBF means to me, what kayak fishing had given me…the joy of the CAKFG tournaments, all of the Tennessee club tournaments, the Hobie Opens; even the weekends with friends.

I was certain how much being in my Hobie Pro Angler sets me free, allows me to clear my head.

There is not a doubt in my mind that the feel of a fish on the other end of a good hookset only leaves me wanting more, and more.

But how do I explain that to someone who doesn’t feel the need to compete, or has never known those feelings? When you can hear the “your fishing in a plastic boat” tone in the questions…when you know they do not believe a kayak tournament trail is real; how do you say anything that matters?

So I started with the one thing everyone who talks about it seems to get:

“I have won about $8000 dollars this year.”

The inevitable response – “In a kayak?!!”

While the money is not the motivational factor for me, it is a bonus; and it usually turns the conversation away from the real reasons I started down this road, and into something they can relate to much easier. But not in this case.

After explaining a bit more…

“Why does it matter where you are in the KBF standings? What do you get for it?”

This is where the answer became (always becomes) more personal. Not going to quote my response, but here is what I get for it. Here is why I do it and what it means to me.

In my twenties (all of my twenties) I would watch Hank Parker and Bill Dance, the In Fisherman or the Bassmasters; anything to do with fishing and think, “how cool that would be to do for a living”. I would fish as often as possible, but instead of chasing that dream, I was too busy putting (mostly) illegal substances in my body or drinking the weekends away. I am not ashamed to talk about that; I have to in order to remind myself “that is not who I am, but it was what I did”. I do so knowing that deep inside of me, that potential to waste my life exists and I choose to never be that guy again.

Married, turned 30, had a daughter, went to college, divorced…travel softball with my bug……fished when time allowed; still watching Hank and Bill, still watching Al Linder…Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston…the Bassmasters.

Woke up in my (very) late forties, found myself working, married to my Joy; our kids out of the house. We bought a Bass Tracker to fish a bit; well, me fish, her to read or knit. During those first couple of years together, I found myself longing to be fishing when I was at work. We would get out as often as time allowed, enjoying the water…but there was still something missing.

In 2013, quadruple bypass. I was fortunate to have not died, to have not had a fatal heart attack. My Joy forced the docs to look farther than they wanted, and they found I had major blockage. I learned that life is waaaaaayyyy too short to waste what I had left, and how awesome the woman I love is for me!

We signed up to do a 5K because I was curious what it would be like, so 6 months after having my chest cracked open, I ran in a 5k….I say “ran in” cause we ran off the start, and across the finish – walked in between….then did another a few months later.

Bought a camper, bought a Jackson Big Tuna to carry with that camper……..fished a local tourney…skunked it…….fished a couple more (that is what was missing!!)…bought the Hobie…found KBF…another Hobie…(thinking about a PA14 now)……blah, blah, blah……..some of you know the story, if not just ask. I love to talk fishin’ and Hobies.

Anyway….last year I found myself moving up in the KBF standings. I fished the Hobie open and finished in the top 25, won AOY in the CAKFG….and all of the sudden I was fishing against the best kayak anglers in the country – and was competitive.

I was being asked how I fished, where I fished. I would get stopped at ramps or stores and asked about my kayak, what KBF was about; I talked about merits of the Hobie, convinced a lot of my friends that they should look up Caney Fork and try out the PA’s, the Outbacks…this year the Compass.

I was answering questions about tackle, lures…being asked my opinion about weather, gear….I was taking new guys out and showing them how to measure fish, how to use the hawg trough (yes, even identifiers in spite of what I did in this year’s Hobie Open, I know how dang it!), how to hold the fish, the camera…took a couple guys crappie fishing and helped them catch their first crappie! I was living the dream….I was no longer just dreaming about doing – I was (am) doing!!!

The feeling of fishing against over 700 anglers and finishing in the number 7 spot…..man oh man. It took me hours of dedication learning new techniques; applying all of those lessons from Hank, Bill, Al, Roland and Jimmy…the BASS guys…all the new guys to accomplish that feat.

I plan to ride it out and see how far being a part of the KBF family can take me while fishing the Hobie tourneys, the local club’s tourneys, Ron Champion’s tourney….plan to fish for redfish (blue fish, one fish two fish….), trout, catfish….any fish.

Say what you will about the organization, you will not sway me.  KBF is a vehicle that allows me to do the thing that I love while competing against the best kayak bass anglers; as far as I am willing to travel. The trails, the challenges, the opens and the championship give me a format to grow, to learn, to challenge myself.

And that after the long winded path, here is why I drove 5000 miles last month, what chasing the tournaments is for….what I get out of it all…

….to challenge myself!

So it ain’t for the money, it ain’t for the show…I may never be the top professional angler, but I will push myself to be as competitive as my abused old body will tolerate…I will live as much as I can in the time left for me and smile on all the late night drives home.

I am proud to be a kayak angler traveling with my Joy; to wherever the best are schooled up to take ‘em on.

So…see ya on the water……

Oh, and stay tuned for “how NOT to NOT secure your identifier in the Hobie Open”.