Kayaking for a Rookie by Preson (Trey) Taylor
I am an avid fisherman and have loved fishing since I was first able to hold a rod in my hand. I have fished from powerboats of all sizes in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. My close friend, Ben Adrien, has fished with me for many years and recently invited me to fish with him in a kayak bass fishing tournament. Having never fished from a kayak before, I was somewhat apprehensive. I weigh right at 300 pounds and wasn’t quite sure how I would fare in the close confines of a kayak.
The morning of the tournament arrives and rain is beating on the windshield as we pull into the parking lot to unload our equipment. We carry Ben’s Live2Paddle utility paddleboard and the Wilderness Ride 135 kayak down to the shore of the river in East Tennessee. Shortly thereafter I feel cold water drops
It’s not till I drop the anchor that I understand the reason there is a rope that runs from bow to stern on a pulley system that attaches to the anchor rope. It’s to anchor in different positions because I can only cast about 70 total degrees in front of me.
Anticipation is quickly building as the sky starts to lighten from black to gray. Ben and I are laughing and reminiscing to keep the mood lite. It’s now, when your sitting in a kayak by one of your best friends, on a beautiful river at daylight, in the rain with your feet in the river, that time starts to slow down. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be on this day.
As I became more comfortable with the thought of fishing from this very smalI, one-man fishing vessel, I say to Ben, “I think I can stand in this thing if I need to.” I think back to the day before when I launched the kayak into the swimming pool at my mom and dad’s. It was actually great practice being able to push the limits of the buoyancy without danger, not to mention 85 degree water. I even practiced fishing a little. What I didn’t practice, and actually had not even considered, was the organization of all my equipment and all the strings needed to tie everything in so I wouldn’t lose it.
As we are waiting to make our first cast, I have 3 rods and two boxes of lures in the stern, a landing net on the bow, measuring board underneath my legs, pliers, a stringer hooked on my shirt for quick access, and a rod in my hand. Ropes go in every direction because half of those items are tied in. Let’s all understand, my fishing partner, Ben Adrien, is an expert fisherman/kayak fisherman and is helping me every step the way. Truthfully, I couldn’t have done it effectively without his support.
A couple of minutes slowly tick off the clock and I holler at Ben, “It’s time — LETS DO IT!” and casting begins. It’s barely been five minutes and I land my first smallmouth. It’s at this time, when I bring him in the kayak, that I realize just how disorganized I am. Stuff is flying everywhere and I am trying to take pics with a touchscreen phone with wet hands in the rain (which doesn’t mix) of a fish flopping all over the place. It’s not as easy as one might think.
It’s not long before I hear Ben hollering and he’s got one too. We both continue to catch fish on jigs and crank baits most of the morning, never quite getting away from the rain. We decide to quit around 11:00 and an upstream paddle begins back to the launch using the calm water of the inside bends to work our way up. I think it’s best not to rush it and just stay smooth and steady. It’s now that I became aware that paddling a kayak upstream is arduous and tiring. At the end of the day, my arms and legs tell me that I have used muscles that have not been used in years. In a kayak you are closer to the water and the fish, and it is a much different perspective from standing in a powerboat. It also offers an opportunity to fish water that may not be accessible to a powerboat, such as a shallow river or pond.
As we are leaving I take one last glance at the river, thinking that catching bass on a river out of a kayak is a truly rewarding experience and one that I am thankful to have had the opportunity to share with a good friend.