And Bass For All!
John Cox has made a successful professional fishing career out of a simple concept: lighten-up and go where others can’t so you can find cooperative, and often bigger, fish.
His choice is an aluminum boat made by Crestliner. At 20 feet in length the craft provides ample storage along with the length to span rough waves. It fishes a lot like a huge fiberglass boat only . . . different.
While Cox was winning the recent Forrest Wood Cup miles up a creek off the main body of Wheeler Lake, he crossed paths with a kayak angler. There was a big ‘yak tourney that reportedly offered a top prize of $4,000. Not the same as winning the Cup and the $300,000 paycheck that comes with it, but considering the lack of gas money burned, it’s not too shabby.
Cox has shown us that a guy can compete on tournament fishing’s grandest stage without all of the high dollar bells and whistles. To take the concept a step further, he’d need to convert from metal to plastic – the material from which most kayaks are constructed.
Kayak tournaments are on the rise. Money, real money, is up for grabs. Cottage industries are springing up around the ever-growing plastic navy. It looks a lot like the Bassmaster trail when Ray Scott first got it rolling back in the 60’s.
How many of you reading this are thinking about fishing some tourneys out of your paddlecraft? How many already have?
One great aspect of paddle tourneys is that the tourneys, and by extension, the participants, are not limited to a species. “The kayak that I use to fish a bass tournament in Texas is the same one I ferry to the Bahamas and fish offshore tournaments in,” says Christina Weber, noted kayak angler and Hobie team pro. “I love it!”
Modern kayas are stable enough to stand on, as we do in bass boats. photo by Christina Weber
On the floor of ICAST in Orlando, Weber showed some features available on modern fishing kayaks. All the electronics you’ve grown used to on big boats – graphs, GPS displays and trolling motors – are being mounted on ‘yaks. You can even mount a small Power-Pole on one.
Or you can keep things as simple, and affordable, as you wish. Any number of items can be used as a shallow water anchor and push pole.
If you want to fish hands-free all the time, Hobie offers a system to allow you to pedal your craft. And new for this year, you can even pedal it in reverse. It’s called the Mirage Drive 180 and the removable unit is just another example of the type of innovation being integrated into modern kayaks.
Just as Cox and his Crestliner can hang in deep water or press the advantage beyond the shallow bushes, so much more so can anglers in kayaks or paddle boards access unbothered, uneducated, uncaught fish.
And to scratch the competitive itch there are plenty of tournaments – take a look at KayakBassFishing.com, FishKBS.com (home of the Kayak Bass Series), or just search the subject on the ‘Net.
Go paddle some fish!