Caney Fork guy out of water…or a Hobie guy in a NuCanoe world

Last weekend was an extremely tough one for me.  My Joy was at St. Thomas with her dad, so I was home without her (he is home now! And so is she).  I had worked too long a week and was completely exhausted…and the real problem; there was no tournament.  Did you hear me…no tournament to fish!….

So what do you do when you have no tournament…after you stop shaking and mourning the fact…you (well I) go to BassPro and get a Ram Mount for the new Hummingbird….order a Hobie mount to attach the Ram Mount to….then drive to Kingsport to pick up a kayak I had won a few weeks ago.

Normally, I would not promote this kayak for a couple of reasons….

  1. I am on the Caney Fork fishing team.
  2. I am on the Hobie fishing team and dedicated to the brand.

…but I had won the kayak, a NuCanoe Flint, while attending the Fishing for Soldiers event a few weeks ago.  I had bought a few raffle tickets to support the cause –  providing custom trained Mobility Assistance Service Dogs from Smokey Mountain Service Dogs.  The kayak had been donated by Frontier Outdoors in Kingston, Tennessee (1218 Gallaher Rd, Kingston, Tennessee 37763).

At first, I thought I was in the wrong place…one end of the building is a shooting range…and I could hear gun fire…and I was a Caney Fork guy in a Frontier Outdoors world….but once I talked with John, and we came to an agreement that I was not going to let Joy buy a kayak from them today…and no, he still couldn’t have her number…all was good!

We did stand out front and talk for a long while…long enough to watch an unfortunate soul get pulled over, perform two sets of sobriety tests – still not sure how it turned out, but it couldn’t be good….and I learned that these two are my kinda folks….in a not all good kinda way…but they will treat you right if you get by their shop.   They are some pretty awesome dudes, and I love their commitment to the Fishing for Soldiers event and to the kayak community.

My butt will most likely never sit in the kayak, our daughter was going to buy a kayak; now she will not need to look any more….but I want to say thanks to John Miller and Brant Williams for donating the kayak…and for welcoming me to their store even though I was sporting some serious Caney Fork/Hobie vinyl on my truck.

 So…if you can’t get by Caney Fork and need a Hobie in the Knoxville area….go see John and Brant at Frontier Outdoors…support those who are willing to support others….

And next year….sign up for the Fishing for Soldiers event….it is a great tournament and you get to give back a little….and maybe just win some cool stuff (also won an H-Crate from Hobie and a cooler from Stanley!).

And thanks again for the kayak guys!  I appreciate it…and the conversation.  Hope to see you again!

 

Hobie like your Barishnikov…or not…

Just home from Guntersville, I went there after attending the “Fishing for Soldiers” event where a bunch of us from Clarksville fished Chickamauga.  It was a pretty awesome tournament, and they had some pretty cool raffle prizes.  I was fortunate enough to pick up a Hobie H-Crate jr, and a Stanley Cooler…but the real winners are the folks this tournament benefits; the veterans who will now get an opportunity to have a mobility assistance service dog from Smoky Mountain Service Dogs…and is not to late to help them…check out their site and donate.    Also, you still a chance to win a kayak or a trailer right here while adding to the funds raised at the event; five bucks.  Next year….go to this tournament (yeah, I wasn’t asking), it is not something you want to miss!

But, selfishly, I want to talk about a side event that was occurring.  When I arrived at check-in beaten by the heat and the miles I covered to catch the tiny fish I turned in….I went straight to see AJ McWhorter and Ben Meredith.  They were watching a guy trying to save some fish that had been released (CPR – CATCH, PHOTO AND RELEASE like the kayakers would have saved them!!!!) by the concurrent boat tournament….he was doing this in an Arctic Blue Hobie 360 PA14.  I had seen the kayak at the Hobie BOS event on Guntersville the week before, but it was in a room and not on the water.

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Kevin Nakada (leaning on the 360) and AJ Mcwhorter listening to Randy Howell at Guntersville.

I got in the Hobie, AJ showed me a couple of things about it….and then I pedaled out.  And I turned, and went forward and backward.  Then I went sideways, at 45 degree angles….and forward, and back, and in a circle….I know it wasn’t, but the image in my head….was me performing a kayak ballet to a classic…

…ok honestly I was hearing Big Smo – Workin in my head…I have developed an extremely unhealthy habit of listening to country rap (CRAP for short and Joy hates it!) while traveling and it was an ear worm that is playing in my head again since I typed it….

But I was doing things I had never imagined possible in a kayak!  I went from straight left, to straight right, to off at an angle wide open! Forward again, into the shallow to test the kick-up fins, then backwards out into the bay.  The drive feels extremely solid and robust…and performs as advertised!  I picked it apart with my engineering hat….and am impressed with the design and function; but this isn’t a review…it is more of a “I hate how much I love it” confession.

So much that I measured the distance to my truck, and calculated the chances that I would get the kayak on the trailer and to my house without being noticed….the odds were low….so I reluctantly removed my butt from the seat.

John Miller of Frontier Outdoors (sponsor at the Fishing for Soldiers event) heard me talking about Joy buying me kayaks (he had obviously seen the look on my face when I tore myself from the kayak) and immediately asked for her number. Normally I would have been upset by some man asking for my wife’s phone number, but she is infamous for buying Hobies and gift cards….and other stuff for me…so I wasn’t.  But I did tell him not only no, but hell no (only because I am on the Caney Fork team)!  I would have loved to talk with him more and share that it wasn’t personal.  She is not allowed (or so I have told Ryan and her) to talk with Ryan Martin at Caney Fork Outdoors either….

….well, to be open….I did call her before I left the parking lot and said….”ask Ryan when he will have one”….full disclosure; I said, “ask him when I can pick a 360 up”!  He is going to let me (her) know.  Sorry John…I hope we get an opportunity to talk more – but stay away from Joy; I ain’t getting another job and my garage has no more room in it!!!!!

 

So…

…go out and buy some chances on the kayak and the trailer made by Jim Davis.

 

…in the next week or so….holler and I might let you demo the Hobie 360 that she is not allowed to buy.

 

…when you try it…I can crank some “workin” for you, then I can shoot you Ryan’s cell number….and I can drive you to pick one up while listening to more CRAP.

The Hobie 360 is definitely a game changer!!!

kayaks with motors….an opinion

I love kayak tournaments.  I have been a part of every event I can find since the first CAKFG event I fished three – maybe four – years ago.  I travel thousands of miles annually chasing them because I love the comradery, the competition and the adventures my wife and I share as we travel.  I attend local, statewide, KBF, Hobie BOS, charity…any I can find (free on Sunday if you know where one is)…sometimes doing ok, sometimes sucking….but always love just being there!

A recent poll went up on the CAKFG Facebook page asking if motors should be allowed in our local events. it seems to have sparked a very spirited debate filled with emotion and differing opinions on the impact motors might have.  This is not a new topic to kayaking, and will continue to be argued among tournament trails. Usually I stay out of any topic as emotional as this one; not quite politics and religion, just a lot of passion around it…but…here we go…

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…I wish motors were not allowed in kayak events….even for pre-fishing.  There is something about not using one that makes it more to me personally…human vs his/her environment.  The wind, rain, current and temp – there is something natural about it.

 

On hot or cold days, I get very tired pedaling.  Having had quadruple heart bypass, it is hard to withstand extremes…but I actually feel good fighting through it to compete; it makes me feel more alive to be honest.  The work required to keep myself ready to survive those days has been part of the beauty of kayak fishing for me; part of the appeal.

I will respectfully disagree with those that feel there is not an advantage with motors….if nothing more than covering and eliminating more water, they help….if there were no advantage, no one would be adding them.  With a motor, my physical (and mental on some level) prep is not as critical…pushing myself to overcome the conditions and obstacles that my environment stacks against me would be easier…it would no longer be “me” against it all.  The long nights driving, or sleeping on ramps, would be easier to overcome if I added a motor.

 

But I wish motors were not allowed.

 

Now that being said, if the rules change, I plan to add the largest motor allowed to remain competitive….because if the rules at some trails say they are acceptable it will become integral to the sport in some arenas. I plan to put a foot controlled, spot locking monster of a motor on my kayak with the largest battery I can afford so I can cover miles and miles of water.  Because there are distinct advantages to a motor and I do not see me not at the tournaments anytime soon. I will use one at the tournaments that allow them, and take it off for those that do not.

Peace.

Oauchitalking ’bout….

I was fortunate to fish the last Hobie BOS event of the inaugural season on Lake Guntersville last weekend. As always, AJ and Kevin along with Frank Stapleton ran a flawless event; showing the crowd that they are here to deliver premier events.   I didn’t finish well enough to make the TOC…but I guess there is still the BOS shootout on Oauchita coming up in November….maybe I will give it one more try….

Joy and I drove down on Thursday night and landed at our VRBO; The Angler’s Way House. It was a pretty cool place with a nice place to park the Hobie.  Y’all heading down to Guntersville, might want to consider it as a place to stay. Rudy called to make sure we had everything we needed, then texted to check on how I was doing in the tournament. Pretty cool guy, pretty cool place out on Highway 69.  Pretty convenient to most kayak tournament check-ins.

Then Friday morning.

I had picked a spot to pre-fish that I had never been to on the Lake.  It had several options; deep water, road bed, rip rap, grass, docks all within a two mile stretch of water.   I launched at what would be the official launch time…and headed down the bank chunking a Zara Spook.  I found my first fish around a dock; the Publix fishing pier.  It was less than 5 minutes in and I found a fish.  Ten feet later, an 18 inch fish.  I move on…to the other side and had a monster blow up on a frog. I left the area and moved to some grass where I caught a 17 plus….and moved on….farther back while on the phone with Jay Minor…I caught three more – 14 to 16 inches.

I moved to the road bed and saw absolutely nothing, on the rip rap the same….

 

Later I met Jay at Guntersville Tackle and Outdoors (another place I recommend you stop at) and picked up some spare frogs.  Then picked up Joy, ran down to the Huddle House and ate a monstrous lunch/breakfast that my cardiologist would never approve of….then back to take a shower.   I probably should have checked out a few more spots, but I felt like I had a solid place…thing is, it was shocking that I found fish there.

 

This is the spot I fished for the better part of three days! X marks the keeper fish.

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Pre-fishing I caught 80 plus inches.

Day one, I caught 83.25…….

…day two….

 

Day Two……day two….I pulled up to the ramp and talked with Drew Russell.  He said he would give me the space I needed because I had finished in the top ten (a cool thing that many kayakers are willing to do!!!).  I told him I wanted to hit that…..I pointed….to the corner I could see from the ramp….corner….it is five in the morning and….there was a bass boat sitting dead in the spot I had found fish….

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ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?

 

I had a spot large enough for a Hobie, and this dude was sitting there pounding my 2000 sq foot….chock full of enough bass to make the TOC….I had found them casting blindly pre-fishing…finally doing well on Guntersville….finally doing well at all….80 plus inches….dang it, they are not going to bite…..spot.

I hoped it would reload…it did…with smaller fish.  I moved by ten, because these fish had turned off every day by then, to Honeycomb and upgraded two small fish with two slightly larger small fish….

 

….but the thing is…I had also destroyed my Mirage Drive by running into a rock pedaling wide open….so I was losing the battle in the wind.  I could still use the drive, but it would no longer allow me to pedal full speed into that wind so I headed to the truck….in 22nd place.

 

But Like I said…I had found fish on a body of water that had always beaten me terribly, I finally had a chance in a Hobie event (been struggling this year in all tournaments), and I was able to talk with old friends…make new friends…hear Randy Howell and see a bunch of Tennessee boys show out….my friend Josh recorded another win…..no complaints from me!

 

Thanks again to AJ, Kevin and Frank for making Guntersville an awesome event!  Thanks to the city of Guntersville for always welcoming us into your city!

 

7 hours to Oauchita….hmmmmm….

sorry Siri….please take me home!

Joy and I were driving back from the Southeast regional last weekend.  I was trusting that the directions coming through my phone were accurate….it has been a very hard transition for me to trust it.  It was taking me on a different path than it ever had from Florence, Alabama and I was a bit worried that it had finally happened.

Joy has constantly warned me that Siri is listening when I say disparaging things about “her” during our trips.  I am less than congenial when I ask for directions to Clarksville, Tennessee and am instantly given instructions on “how to skin a zebra” or a map leading to somewhere in Central America….and Joy keeps warning me that I will not be safe when the robots take over…but I really hadn’t listened.

But as I came back from Alabama, and had turned down my third one lane road, I turned to Joy and said “this (bad word here) is just messing with me now!”

She laughed at me, then with a more serious tone said, “I warned you!”

I told her “there is no way this is the way home!  This (bleepidy, bleeping bleep) is actually messing with me!”

“She can hear you now! I have been telling you!”

Then we passed some road labeled “1984” south of Dickson, Tennessee….and I….well….Siri…we finally made it home.

 

“Siri, I hope you had a nice day if you are reading this.”

 

….not going to say much more – need directions to LaCrosse soon….just posting a few pics of some great folks at the KBF southeast regional.

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My Joy….tell Siri I was kidding!
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Chuck Mizer looking ….well, you tell me!
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Whole lot of CAKFG right there!
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some dudes at the top!
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Kristine beat us all up a bit!

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Anglr getting involved with KBF!

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Kristine breaking it down for the KBF folks
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Jim Ware…just one cool dude.

..CAKFG…my first second family…

CAKFG battle of the creeks….

To say I was excited by the prospect of a local tournament on the creeks…which included Yellow Creek….in the afternoon, in late August would be an understatement.

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The tourney was slated to run from 4 to 10 p.m. on any one of the local creeks between here  (Clarksville) and Dover, Tennessee.  These creeks, these are the places that I grew up fishing; where I did well in two previous National Championships, where I have caught double digit numbers of bass over 6 lbs, where I slay crappie in the winter and white bass in the spring, where I caught my first pickerel and bowfin, where I first launched in a kayak just over three years ago…the place I go to regroup, to find myself…to get “quiet” for a minute.

This same setting is also where I fished my first kayak tournament with the CAKFG group three years ago….the same tournament where I picked up my first tournament skunk.  I have had my truck broken into twice on Yellow Creek, shot bottle rockets off the bridge into the water, passed out….and in my distant past, grew plants that may one day be legal in our state on the banks far up the creek.  So to say that I love the area would be an even bigger understatement than saying I was excited about the tournament.

But during pre-fishing, I only found a couple of fish in Guices Creek and lost a decent one in Yellow so I was a bit worried.  I also knew I would never be alone in the creek, and that Yellow is pretty sensitive to large numbers of anglers.  But in the end, I chose it because it is truly the place that defined me as an angler.

I pulled up to the launch to find Matt Duckworth and Matt Lake on the ramp, saw Donald Guthrie’s truck – knew he was there (later learned that Kareem Thompson was with him too); assumed that Josh Stewart would be showing up and that James Davis would fish there after dropping off a paddle for Matt Lake.  So six anglers and myself….plus two boats with two anglers each up the creek…..I almost went to Guices; but decided to risk it.

I started up the creek, knowing I was not going much past the first flats and hoping that everyone would pass me and head to the back.  They did, so I fished very slowly until 5:30 giving the water time to “calm” after all of the traffic as I moved into the back of the creek.  I caught three 10-11 inch fish with a fluke along the way…and was a little worried.

Then the shadows dropped across the creek, the temp cooled a bit…and I pulled out the Heddon Zara Spook Jr.

I worked it very hard, trying to draw the fish up…Bam….an 11 inch spot blew up on it.  Good sign.

I moved back in the creek and could hear voices, but saw no one….knowing I was in the best section of the creek…and turned back toward the mouth…

…working the bait very hard over shadows under the water….and you know the sound if you have ever caught a bass over 6lbs on a Spook….and my first thoughts…

“I forgot to sign up for big bass”….it jumped…”I didn’t sign up for big bass”…”damn it”….I pulled it close to the boat, dipped my net, but it wasn’t ready and it dove….under my Hobie…

 

Lesson….push the pedals forward to pull the drive up!!!  YOU KNOW BETTER!

 

…I held my rod under and away from the boat….but it found the drive….and took my Baby Bass Spook with her.

Hate to admit it, but I almost broke my net on the hatch of my Hobie slamming it down…

“I am going to skunk now!!!!”

I dug out another spook – I had no more baby bass – had zero confidence in it.  I had tried to find some at Academy…but some of you had bought them all!  “I am going to skunk in this tourney again!!”

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About a hundred yards later…17 plus incher blew up…then some shorts…by now it was after 6 and I knew the window was about an hour to an hour and a half that the bite would continue…so I started pedaling fast and chunking at targets…

I passed James who was in one of my favorite spots…and moved to a flat…missed a decent one before a good one blew up on the spook and was hooked…

It took me straight into wood and I pedaled as fast as I could to see that it was gone.  I had seen it and knew it was 17 plus…dang it!

 

Lesson two…I forgot to mention that my line breaking earlier may have been due in part to the fact that I was working this spook (crashing it hard) with 8 lb test I had used at Lanier…the lesson…8 lb ain’t quite enough for hammerin’ a spook over wood.

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Anyway….less than fifty yards away was a spot I knew usually held fish….CRASH…19 plus….YES!!…one more…

Twenty feet later….12 inches….a limit!!

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I did something I never do…I looked to see where I was in the standings…it was almost seven, I knew the creek bite was going to die…so I looked.  I was leading.

James had come up beside me, we had talked about measuring fish at the FLW event, so we spent some time measuring the 12 to show how I do it…and then I told him how I had been catching them and we slowly worked back to the ramp.

I upgraded the 12 to a 12.5….and pulled off the water at dark – I do not fish in the dark…..then I parked at the check in till everyone was there.

The check ins I must confess are my favorite part of every tournament.  You get to see old friends, make new friends…laugh at, with and about everyone there….and just enjoy the camaraderie that comes with our community.

And these guys (you CAKFG folks – old and new) are the most special to me.  They are the first kayakers I met, the first I really knew…and to be honest, the most supportive bunch I have ever been a part of….love you guys!!!  Thanks Greg Phipps for introducing me to them….so much.

All in all, it was a good day.

 

..no retrial…please…

My Joy and I have been married just short of 8 years.  We started talking to each other just a few days over 8 years ago.  And during all of that time, I have told her not to buy me anything for Christmas, birthday…any day…but as good as I know her hearing to be; it goes unheard.  I am not complaining, but it is that our life together is….well, we are blessed so there is nothing I need.

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Dishrag and Sis with Bomma (Joy)

My birthday is…very soon…and she had every intention of buying me a Torqueedo or some other trolling motor for my kayak.  It is not that I do not plan to add a motor at some point to stay competitive, I just am not sure which route I plan to pursue.  I had to beg and threaten her not to do so; and for the first time in 8 years…she listened; no non-refundable gift certificate, no “I did it anyway”, no fake holiday reason to buy me something regardless of what I say (although she did give me a check that I may use one day).

 

But Joy being Joy…she had to do something.

 

On one of our adventures, we had picked up a floating Cypress knee (pretty sure it was from Caddo Lake in Louisiana); she loves driftwood and makes some cool things from it.

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These become gifts, planters or just “stuff” around our house.

She can draw, knit, make stuff I cannot imagine….write legibly (I wish I could)….

 

….One thing she had never done, carved in wood….

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This woman, who I do not deserve for the record, went to our local farmers market and talked with some local wood carvers….asked them for some info…then took that Cypress knee and carved a fish in it for my birthday.  Not only does she support my need to fish, and allows me the time to write…and to scout waters, and talk on the phone about fishing….and buy too much fishing stuff…she spends her free time doing this for me.

 

Man oh man….I really don’t deserve her….but whatever judge in the Karmic justice system put her here….thanks for the mistake!!