Father's Day Guide: Top 10 gifts Dad will love!
In search of a great gift for Dad?
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P.S: These ideas are great for Grandpas, fathers-in-law, brothers and all the other amazing Dads in your life, too!
- Brienne Harley
Battle of the Boats - Which is right for you?
- Erica Novak
Kayak Fishing Fueled My Recovery
Everyone’s story is different and taking the time to learn an angler’s story is one of the many rewards of the fast-growing sport of kayak fishing. A great example is the story behind Chris Caluori. He didn’t follow in the footsteps of family anglers that had a love for the sport nor follow a golden-brick road full of successes leading to his kayak fishing career. His path to kayak fishing is unique and one that we want to share with the world! His journey started with trials, tribulations, and disappointments that evolved into perseverance, faith, and lifelong friendships. Written directly by Chris, here’s a glimpse of what his journey looked like and how kayak fishing has changed his life forever:
“I’ve had a passion for fly fishing for as long as I can remember. As a veteran fly angler, my love for the sport drove me to spend hours walking through the woods and unsteady creek bottoms in search of trout and steelhead…but five years ago my passion was ripped away from me.
So, let’s rewind five years to February 14, 2014, yes…Valentine’s Day. The day started off as usual and I anticipated it to be an average day at work, but what I didn’t know was that was the day my life was going to change forever! That day at work I was welding a commercial humidifier 15 feet in the air, and I fell.
I fell from a ladder straight to the ground, landing flat on my feet. Due to the height that I fell from, the impact shattered both of my legs and ankles. This was by far the worst pain that I have ever experienced, and BELIEVE me, I felt every little sensation of the impact.
This is what my left leg looked like the next morning. After a long three months and eight surgeries later, I was finally on my way to recovery. I knew my days of forging through the woods to find new water filled with trout were over. I was devastated and overwhelming depression quickly set in. My doctors that only knew me due to physical therapy could even tell that there was a light dimming inside me. As a member of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, I was still able to be involved with things related to fly fishing, and I found some joy from that, but it wasn’t the same anymore. I thought my days of fighting trophy fish were behind me until I met Noah Heck at Kayak-Anglers Western PA Chapters Lake Wilhelm event in July of 2014.
Noah introduced me to kayak fishing and it was love at first cast! I instantly had new life breathed into me, because for the first time since my accident I realized I could fish again and even be competitive. This was a whole new learning experience for me, though. I had never been in a kayak before, let alone fished from one, but I was willing to give it my all. So, I started saving up funds, and thanks to the great folks at The Rivers Edge Canoe and Kayak, I found a kayak that fit all my needs.
After my rookie kayak fishing season, I was still having trouble with my legs and dealing with the pain associated from sitting still in the kayak for long periods of time. Neil Andritz, the owner of the Rivers Edge, introduced me to Hobie Cat and the Pro Angler 14 (what some consider the flagship of all kayaks on the water). And from that point, the Hobie Cat has changed my life! The most amazing thing about the design is that they’re patented Mirage Drive and the functionality mimics one of the machines I used during physical therapy!
Due to my accident, my ankles are now fused, with my left ankle being fused at 90 degrees solid, so utilizing a pedal-drive kayak with a traditional bicycle style pedal was not going to be an option for me. The Hobie Pro Angler14 and its Mirage Drive allowed me to step up my game in tournaments and provided me with more physical therapy to my legs, which I consider a win-win!
I’ve learned that in life some doors must close so others can open. I thought my accident was going to be my demise, but kayak fishing and the comradery of the anglers involved with the sport brought light back into my life. If there’s one message that I can convey to others through sharing my story I hope its this: Never let a circumstance define you or dictate what is going to become of your future. Never let the fear of the unknown cripple you. Let strong faith in the Lord, your willpower and self-determination define you and be the light to your path. Without those things, along with great friends and family, I would probably still be confined to a wheelchair.
I am forever indebted to Hobie Cat, Kayak-Anglers, Neil and Evelyn Andritz, and Noah Heck! To my family and friends, I’d like to thank you for always pushing me, having my back, being my rock and shoulder to cry on, and most importantly, for believing in me. Kayak fishing has forever changed my life in ways that I never imagined could. I was able to turn my tragedy into a testament, and I hope if there is someone else out there, thinking that their life of adventure is over due to a circumstance out of their control, they read this. And please know that your journey is not over, it’s just beginning. Thank you to all!”
- FishOn ProStaff
Bigger Bait, Bigger Fish
Poppers, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, and the soft plastic worm on occasion. This is what I threw… every trip... every time! I always classified myself as a "Power Fisherman". The baits I always threw covered a lot of water very quickly. Now these methods worked, and when they didn't, I threw the worm. I almost always caught fish, but the size of these fish-that is an entirely different story. I decided it was time to expand on my techniques and go out of my comfort zone; I wanted to go "Bigger"! I have always read stories about anglers who threw big swimbaits and had success catching bigger fish. Now I had my reservations, but I was off...WAY OFF. Let me explain...
Bigger baits to many mean bigger fish. Now, my first reservation was "bigger fish means catching quality, not quantity", which in turn could mean increasing my chances of a catching a "skunk" instead of a "hawg". Was I willing to do that? Let's face it, telling my buddy that I caught 14 bass instead of 6 bass sounds like a "WOW" day (if I leave out some details such as the size, right)? That doesn't make me a liar, I am just leaving out the details that the average size of these bass was 12"-13" because I threw a 1/4 oz. spinnerbait all day or perhaps a 1/2 oz. lipless crankbait. Sure, I did catch the occasional big bass here and there, but often, I was catching average sized fish. I wanted to do better than that. I decided it was time to go big or go home, so I posted on a social media page, asked a few friends about some gear details, and my research began. Here is what I found out and to my surprise, I was way off in my thinking.
My first thought was that I was going to need a broomstick of a rod and a massive reel. I was thinking that this setup combined with these big lures was going to weigh a ton and my arm would fall of at the end of the day. That was my absolute first mistake. After seeking information from a variety of sources, most anglers recommended a rod over 7'6" long, heavy action, and not too fast of a taper. Most of the anglers stated a heavy action rod would give you the backbone to horse a big fish if needed as well as allowing you to "lob" the lure rather than casting it to eliminate shoulder stress. In addition, they recommended a moderate to moderate fast taper for keeping a fish hooked; if the taper was too fast, it would rip the hooks right out of the fish’s mouth. As far as the reel, a 300 sized casting reel would do the trick, and the only advantage of a conventional round reel over a low profile was line capacity.
Now, I just did not want to jump right into the deep end and start throwing 8-9" baits so I decided to start with a 6" Triton Mike Bucca Bull Shad in the Gizzard color. I picked up a 7'9" Falcon Lowrider rod with a moderate action and a Daiwa Millionaire Classic reel and I was off to become a swimbait angler. Now, this is where I had my epiphany. My first day out with this rod and reel, it sat in my BlackPak for most of the trip because I was hesitant to throw it. The bite was hot and I actually caught 15 Bass on that particular trip so I did not want to jinx myself. Finally, during my paddle back to the launch I decided to give it a cast or two before I loaded up. So, I paddled towards a dock situated near some cover. My first cast was a complete dud! I accidentally hit the bait clicker and my cast went half the distance so that doesn't really count. My next cast (my first real cast, HAHA) fell just short of the front of the dock and as soon as I started to retrieve the bait, I saw the fish roll on it and I had hooked! I landed my first swimbait bass on my first cast! I thought it was supposed to be harder to catch bass on swimbaits due to their larger size. Catching a bass on my “second” cast was not the norm and I felt super lucky.
Here in South Florida the weather has greatly fluctuated. We have had several cold fronts move in and days of rain (which to be honest, we needed). Now let's fast forward to my next trip out after popping my swimbait cherry. I decided to give this lure some more time on the water this trip. Like I previously thought, my main concern was having difficulty catching bass on a bigger lure, but I made the commitment and was off to the races. I paddled to an area where there was a creek that opened into the lake. There were docks on both sides and large boulders along the bottom. To my surprise, about 6-7 casts into working the area, I had hooked another bass using this technique. I continued to use this lure throughout the day and I had caught and landed another 6 bass. I lost a 7th fish due to me fumbling the hookset in the rain, but this is where the thought hit me. I really did not sacrifice quantity with a bigger bait, but the bass WERE bigger! Except for one bass that was maybe 12", who was obviously ambitious hitting a bait half his size haha! But this bait worked just as well as a bait half its size. Granted, this is not the huge 8" or 11" Bull Shads, but I definitely doubled the size of my offering and did not see any fall-off in catch rate.
All this time, I have thought that using heavier tackle and larger baits would only provide me with a catch "here and there" and that I had to be fishing somewhere where big bass lurked or I would be going home skunked. I was wrong! By throwing a bigger bait, I was imitating a bigger "offering" and larger bass were coming after it! In turn, I was now catching more rewarding fish. In addition, I also have another technique to use when the bite is off. I have not yet caught that double-digit bass on this technique, but believe me, every time my Bull Shad is hit, the possibility is there, and I can’t wait for that moment! So, if you have had the same thoughts as I did when it comes to throwing bigger baits, give it a try! Trust me, you may just catch that bass you have been waiting for!
- FishOn ProStaff
Kayak Fishing Tips - How to Organize for SuccessAs a kayak tournament angler, preparation is one of the keys to success. Often overlooked is the gear preparation that can save you time and frustration when traveling to the early morning launch on tournament morning. The team at Cal Coast Fishing has developed some great products that can give you that organizational advantage and set you up for tournament day success.
- FishOn ProStaff
Fishing Online's 2018 Holiday Gift GuideIt's that time of year! Not sure what to get the angler in your life? Look no further. Fishing Online's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide is here!
- FishOn ProStaff