By Kent Johnsen
It’s 7:53 am; where is Fishing Buddy?
Evidently, she is sitting in the driveway waiting for me to get it in gear so we can begin our day. Today; Saturday, October 24, 2015, is the first day of kayak fishing for me. I had hoped to go sooner, but when you own a business sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
The preparation for this day began last week when I knew I was lacking some stuff that other folks have on their kayaks. I installed an anchor trolley, some rod holders, and a couple of soft spots at either end of the saddle gunwales. I used pool noodle for the soft spots and Command brand strips for rod holders. I wasn’t sure about the rod holders, but they have worked out great. Simple, yet effective. Prior to installing the new stuff I totally snaked Steve Anderson’s paddle holder idea and made some of my very own. I used thin, flat aluminum bar and bent it to the contours of the kayak. I filed smooth the sharp edges and covered parts of the holders with good ‘ole duct tape. After all that work I felt way more prepared to use my kayak for catching.
I decided my first outing should be somewhere familiar and protected in case the wind blew a gale. Jan and I chose Lee Landing on the Upper Broad Creek of the Neuse River. The Neuse is brackish down my way, so we knew that we could potentially catch anything from sunfish to drum or speckled trout. Fishing Buddy gave me some advice about packing for the day and what to take and what not to take. I reorganized 3 times before I was satisfied with my choices and included flies and gear for typical salt and fresh water fishing. I also remembered the camera, yay for me!
We arrived at our destination, unloaded the kayaks from the vehicles and then loaded the kayaks with stuff. Fishing Buddy got on the water first and I followed eventually. I really need to work on the “scoot”. Alas, I was afloat and paddling toward a dock. My second encounter with a dock went a lot better than my first encounter. I slipped my fly rod from the holder and made a cast in anticipation of getting bent; I would have to wait a while before being bowed up. I paddled, cast, and repeated.
I hoped to catch some trout, so I started fishing with a black and orange clouser fly. I then changed to a chartreuse and white clouser fly after no strikes or hook ups. Fishing Buddy had changed from a tutti frutti fly to an all white with gold flash clouser fly and caught a bass on a sunny bank. I decided to go with a white wooly bugger, but that didn’t work too well either. We were both throwing intermediate lines and even though I usually throw a floating line when fishing small poppers, I decided I was going rogue. The wind was blowing me around pretty good, so I backed my kayak up into some reeds while I tied on that awesome little popper and when I was all tied up I eased over toward the sunny bank and made a cast between a cypress knee and a clump of reed grass. Float, strip, pause, strip, pause, BAM! FISH ON! I knew it was a bass because he commenced to pulling me toward his lair and I went to hollering. I was so happy that I evidently failed to see two folks paddling a canoe get close enough to join in the celebration. Unfortunately, my Fishing Buddy had paddled up the creek so she missed the whole scene. The nice canoe folks assured me that they would convey the good news when they got around the bend.
The remainder of the trip was spent catching pumpkinseeds and bass. I did manage to land a reed fish; they are very elusive you know.* 🙂 happy It was 2:00 pm when we arrived back at the boat ramp. We got loaded up and helped a fella get his boat trailer backed down the ramp to retrieve his boat, it was his first time and he needed a bit of guidance.
I had no idea that I had fished for 5 1/2 hours. I learned a lot today and will tweak some things for my next trip. I am so tickled with my kayak and I am so anxious to go again.
I have attached some pictures.
Today was the day; the maiden voyage of Float-n-Fly. There was more float than fly since it was my very first water day in my W700 and only my second time ever in a kayak.
The sun was shining, the wind was blowing about 10-15 mph, and the mosquitoes threatened to hijack my voyage by sucking all of my life blood from me. Despite the wind and squadron of eastern North Carolina skeeters; also known as crop dusters, I pushed off the bank and into a most epic experience. I was immediately blown into a scraggly bunch of above water branches and then decided I better do something so that I could actually claim that I paddled my kayak. I tentatively placed a blade in the water when my Fishing Buddy called out to me and said that my paddle was backward and upside down. Go figure; I did mention that this was my first trip, right.
Lesson #1-It does matter how you hold your paddle.
I adjusted the paddle and started with a good stroke, then another, and then another. Perhaps this was going to work after all. I paddled around in a circle; not because I tried to, but because the wind was pushing me around and around. I finally got turned toward the bank and glided right through the shallows and up onto the grass. It was at this time that I realized I was still on the seat of the kayak and not swimming to shore. Major accomplishment made super easy by the stability of the W700. Fishing Buddy, who is an avid kayaker, gave me some pointers on creating good, productive strokes by turning at my waist and when to lift the paddle out of the water.
Lesson #2-I am not paddling for a world record and it’s not a battleship. Easy and steady will get me where I want to go.
I received some more pointers and great information from Fishing Buddy about turning around and pushed off from the bank one more time. I paddled all around about half the pond practicing the proper stroke so as not to wear myself out and headed to the shore to find out how awesome, or not, I was doing paddling and turning. I said, “How do I look Fishing Buddy?”. She said, “Really good Fishing Buddy.” (“Fishing Buddy” is the nickname we use for each other because she; Jan, has a twin sister named Jill, and my name is Jill.) If you are confused, it’s okay because even after 8 years the guys in our fly fishing club can’t get our names right either.
Anyway, after she proclaimed that I was doing a good job I asked her what else I needed to know. She said, and I quote, “get the hell out so I can try it”.
I knew I had chosen a winner.
I want to talk about the obvious virtues of the W700 that are specific for me.
The first thing is that I am a bona fide big girl who loves to fish and wanted a new adventure. Most kayaks are not made for big girls and most big girls aren’t going to try kayaking or kayak fishing because you are afraid to be embarrassed by not being able to get in or out of a kayak. The W700 solves this problem with the ease of getting in and out without squatting, waddling, rolling, or flopping. You step in and sit down. It’s just that easy.
Secondly, I never felt like I was going to roll over, fall out or flip over. I was plenty nervous at first but I got my butt adjusted and just sat there. Easy, peasy. I wore my brand new life jacket in case I went for a non voluntary swim, so I felt very safe. Next time I will try standing up; which my Fishing Buddy was able to do right away. She is way more awesome than I, but I will get there.
Overall, I am just amazed with the W700 and so happy that I got one of my own. I have attached some pictures to prove it.
Editor’s note: Boyd and his wife used to be avid paddlers until they got their first W kayak. Since then, inspired by his own experience with the W kayak, Boyd became Wavewalk’s dealer in Ontario, Canada, and an avid fly fisherman too.
This short article summarizes Boyd’s own experience and thoughts as a W kayak fly fisherman –
1. Position on the water. Put yourself where the fish are and in the best spot to cast. Stay clear of casting obstructions. Move away from other people fishing. Use your depth finder to locate those drop offs and deeper pockets.
2. Comfort. Stand or sit and rest in comfort.
3. High and dry. Stay dry and comfortable. Keep warm when the water or air is cold.
4. Stability. No more worries about slipping on a wet rock or stepping into a hole or drop off.
5. Storage. Lots of room for equipment, fish, food and drink, etc.
2. Transporting and convenience. Getting to and from and into and out of the water.
3. Access to shallow rivers and stream beds or non motorized bodies of water.
The Wavewalk W500 fishing kayak is the best solution to these cons and still provides the advantages of a full size boat.
I love it when things just work, nice and smoothly, the way they’re supposed to, without leaving much to be desired. My latest W kayaking voyage was definitely one of those times. It wasn’t much of a voyage, or anything to brag about fishing-wise, yet overall, for what it was, it was close to perfect.
I’d been itching to fish a dry fly on some still, wild trout-containing water, which is something I hadn’t done in over a year. So a few days ago I just said NO to my usual afternoon routines in town, and headed for the hills, with some dusty fishing gear, and a gleaming yellow W kayak strapped to the top of my van. My destination was Laurance Lake.
Since the “disappearance” of my beloved Northwestern Lake, just across the border in Washington (due to the removal of the Condit dam) the closest sizable lake to me is Laurance, in the northern foothills of Mount Hood. Laurance is actually a reservoir, but it lacks nothing in alpine charm, lying within a deep, old-growth forested glacial canyon, a fair distance from civilization. I’ve never seen it crowded, or heard any noise there, except for weather and birds, since motorized boats aren’t allowed. Additional pluses are that it’s being managed for the preservation of several species of wild trout, rather than just the harvest of hatchery “fryers”. I’d never boated on this lake before; it’s not an easy place to pull a trailer into, and the free-use area doesn’t offer convenient access for most types of boats. But this time I had my W-kayak, which changed everything.
The area had been getting hit with thunder showers, which are normally quite rare around here, so I knew before I committed to the drive that this wasn’t going to be an ideal day to fish, but I was long overdue for this excursion so I had to go for it.
Luckily, an hour after I arrived, the weather calmed down – no telling how long it would last – and the water started to look a lot more the way I wanted it to; smooth and calm. As I pushed off from shore, it occurred to me that this lake very likely had never before seen a boat quite like the one I was using.
Afloat for the first time here, I couldn’t resist heading straight for the upper end of the lake, which had only been distant and mysterious on previous visits. This is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind when the W-kayak first got my attention; the freedom to move around on the water gracefully, stealthily, in comfort and with minimal effort, and to put myself in places not otherwise conveniently accessible.
What I found was more interesting and enchanting than I’d imagined: a surreal scene of old black stumps, of large trees that had been cut years ago when the lake was formed. Under threatening clouds and occasional sunbeams, these stumps stood against a background of lush green, which is the valley leading up toward the mountain. Through the quiet, I listened to ospreys conversing from a half-mile apart. This was the shallow end of the lake, and not the best place to be looking for fish on a day like this, but dammit, I was here to fish a dry fly, whether any fish noticed it or not, and I liked it just fine where I was, so I stayed put and picked up the fly rod.
At first, my casting coordination with this poor, neglected little five-weight rig was pretty crappy (I was glad no one seemed to be around to see me) but the W kayak made it very easy to stand up and concentrate on my timing, and on tightening up the loop, and landing the line and fly gently on the water. Before long, it was all working very smoothly, which was extremely satisfying and relaxing; my leader was turning over as straight as ever, the stiff-hackled black-and-gray “whatchamacallit” stood high and dry above the surface (much like I was doing) and I could see everything just fine. Honestly, it was pretty much everything I could hope for, except, perhaps, for the direct participation of a fish or two. I did see a few nice-sized risers within easy casting distance, but they definitely weren’t taking anything that was visible above the surface, including the tiny bundle of fuzz and feather I was offering. I got a couple of strong tugs on the fly when it happened to be a few inches below the surface, but that simply wasn’t the way I felt like fishing at the moment. Besides, this particular dry fly was floating exceptionally well most of the time, so who was I to deliberately sink it, or take it out of service and replace it with a humble soft-hackle?
Yes, it’s slightly embarrassing to admit to striking-out that day, as far as the “catching fish” thing is concerned. However, I still consider the outing a great success, overall. I wasn’t there to fish blind, or by feel, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it simply wasn’t part of my mission at the moment. I like flinging spinners as much as anyone, but sometimes I just want to keep things light and up on top, where I can see everything. I had come specifically to fish a dry fly on the surface, for wild trout, on a mountain lake, from my favorite boat, whether I caught anything or not. And that’s exactly what I did, in style.
Click images to enlarge
Even though I had only a couple of hours on the water, I had a wonderful time, and my W kayak deserves a lot of the credit. I didn’t capture any fish, but I did capture two hours worth of the kind of moments I mostly only daydream about. This boat took me exactly where I wanted to be, in exactly the way I wanted, and once I was there it enabled me to fish in exactly the way I felt like doing it, in optimal comfort. It allowed me to relax and concentrate on my surroundings, and on fishing, by staying out of my way and doing exactly what I needed it to do. Standing and casting from it, it felt like I was on my own little floating dock. At times I had the feeling I was standing on a little island! I was simply having a lot of fun, and getting more relaxed by the minute, thanks to the fact that everything was working together (almost) perfectly.
In my experience, most things don’t go completely smoothly, most of the time, and that includes fishing trips. However, I’m finding that my W kayak is the magic new ingredient that makes every moment on the water better, and helps make those elusive perfect moments happen more easily. Unfortunately I can’t just drop everything and go fishing wherever I want to, whenever I feel like it, but it’s sure nice to have such a well-designed, well-suited tool, that gives me a huge advantage in pursuing those moments. It really helps make the most of a very limited recreation/relaxation budget.