Monday, September 19, 2016

Kayak Angler's Choice Awards 2016

The annual Yakangler.com Kayak Angler's Choice Awards have arrived. Actually, they arrived a month or so ago. The first round of nominations ended, and the top nominations can now be voted on in round 2. Admittedly, I didn't participate in round 1. I've gotten tired of seeing this become a popularity contest. People with 10 Instagram accounts, 20 Twitter handles, and multiple Facebook pages seem to get the most votes, while more deserving anglers are left in their wake. However, there are also a lot of votes that get it right. Maybe I am helping to fuel a negative change by doing nothing, much like the thought of voting in the upcoming election makes me want to not vote at all. Conversely, part of me didn't vote because there are too many deserving people, products, etc. out there to choose just one. Personal philosophy aside, Man Powered Fishing was nominated for blog of the year, as were a number of other great blogs and websites. This has been a tough year for blogging, and I feel like I had so many grand plans that just never materialized, but I am thankful that people read and enjoy the content! It is always humbling to be nominated by your peers, and this marks the fourth straight year that MPF has been nominated. As other bloggers can attest, it takes more time, effort, and energy than most think to run a successful blog or website. So, a big thanks to those who nominated this blog - you certainly brightened my Monday morning. Check out all of the nominees over at the Yakangler KACA page.


 Yes, this is sarcasm...and also a tribute to the late, great Gene Wilder

I very briefly looked through the nominees in all categories, and I was super happy to see some of the products that I use and endorse get nominated, including the Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 for kayak of the year and Bending Branches Angler Pro Plus for paddle of the year (I probably missed others).

Tight lines voters (or non-voters)!

Friday, September 16, 2016

10-day Fish Pic Challenge - Day 10 - A Giant Bachelor Bass

Finally, picture #10 gets to be posted. This fish was special for a number of reasons, but mainly because I got to share the memory with a best friend who I don't get to fish with very often these days. Travis and I grew up together in central PA. After meeting in Spanish class, we realized that we both love to hunt and fish. The rest was history. I can't begin to count the number of fish we've caught together, but there have been plenty of big fish and fun stories. This particular fish was caught on a Friday afternoon in a river that is near and dear to my heart in North Carolina. Travis drove down a day before my official "bachelor party" so that we could spend an extra day on the water. Overall, the day was pretty tough, and a couple big fish managed to give us the slip. Finally, this giant inhaled a Rico popper and started to pull drag. I couldn't believe the size of his head as I lifted him out of the water. What a beast!




Eventually, the fish ended up making its rounds on various websites, including in an article in Kayak Fish Magazine.

I should also note that the timing of this blog was pretty perfect, as last weekend Travis entered his first every kayak tournament. The event was held by the PA Kayak Fishing Association and benefited Heroes on the Water. In a grueling 2-day event, Travis managed to bring home first place, and our buddy Ken Glassner took home biggest fish (any species) with a chunky catfish. Congrats to them both!

Until next time, tight lines!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

10-day Fish Pic Challenge - Day 9 - Wyoming Cutthroats

Day 9 of the fish pic challenge was a flashback to Mary May and I's second big trip to Wyoming (original blog here). It was on this trip that we really hit our stride when it came to exploring the area. Each night we sat down with 2-3 topographic maps and picked places to hike and fish the next day. Generally, those hikes took us into the Cloud Peak Wilderness, but we explored a variety of places within an hour or so of our base camp on the middle fork of Clear Creek, including a few that took us way off the beaten path. Among numerous great memories from the trip, MM and I both landed our personal best cutthroat trout - hers at 16" and mine at 17.5". Specifically, these fish were Yellowstone Cutthroats - both of which sucked terrestrials off the surface. I always think a lot about Wyoming this time of the year. It is hard not to fall in love with the place. Hopefully, we can make another trip out that way next year - with the new addition!



Thursday, September 8, 2016

10-day Fish Pic Challenge - Day 8 - A Fall River Giant

I met a bunch of great people through the Duke Fishing Club, one of whom was Jerry Li. Jerry just straight up loves to fish, and when he expressed interest in kayak fishing I was happy to take him. It was late November, and although the water temps were cooling down, the air temps were still pretty friendly. We decided to hit the Haw River for a few hours to see if we could hook a few fish. In my original blog post about the day (seen here), I wrote about it being a "bad, good day", meaning that we caught a decent number of fish and some big fish, but we lost a few that would have made it incredible. Still, my biggest was over 6 lbs, and Jerry snapped a couple sweet shots of the fish before I let her go. Shortly later, I submitted the photo to Bassmaster. A few months later I found out that it was chosen as the cover photo for the "Best bass of fall", which was an awesome feeling!

Representing kayak fishing on Bassmaster.com


Also, I didn't mention in the original blog that Jerry fell in near the start of the day. He was standing and fishing from the kayak when the wind blew the back of the boat into a boulder. The collision was enough to knock him off balance and into the water. Thankfully, I had some extra clothes, and we both laughed it off. It didn't deter him from kayak fishing either, as the next time we fished together, he was showing off his new Wilderness Systems Ride 115.

I can't believe the fall bite is almost upon us!  Tight lines!


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Choosing a kayak fishing paddle - a public service announcement

Today, I'm dropping a PSA. Thankfully, I am seeing "try before you buy" mentioned more and more to beginner kayakers. I can't stress enough that folks should find a few good options, try them out, and see which they like best. Too many of the reviews on the internet are biased in one way or another. However, this mentality should not stop at kayaks. Specifically, try a few kayak paddles before choosing one. I don't just mean brands or models, I'm talking lengths, weights, blade shapes and sizes, materials, shafts, costs, etc.


The camouflage Bending Branches Angler Pro in action in NY


For example, there is a current fad in the industry that everyone needs a longer paddle. I see guys bragging all the time about their new 260-270+ cm paddle, simply because they think bigger is better. However, although they work for some, longer paddles don't make sense for many paddlers. It really comes down to your paddling style/angle, body, and boat dimensions.

One of my favorite features on a number of current paddles is the adjustable ferrule. The ferrule is a mechanism in the middle of a paddle shaft that allows you to adjust both the length and/or shaft/blade angle. Generally, I use a paddle in the 240-245 cm range when paddling the ATAK 140, which is 34" wide for reference. However, in shallow, rocky rivers that require more maneuvering, I regularly use an adjustable ferrule and drop the length to 230 cm, as anything longer gets really annoying. Of course, this is where cost comes in, as most adjustable paddles come with higher price tags. The point is that everyone has a sweet spot. Some anglers, like me, value flexibility and performance. Others prioritize price, ergonomics, or other factors - including aesthetics.

Out of curiosity, I polled 36 avid kayak anglers, including guides, shop owners, and tournament anglers who fish all over the country in all types of water. The question was "what length kayak paddle do you use most often?" The options were as follows: less than 230 cm, 230 cm, 240 cm, 250 cm, 260 cm, greater than 260 cm, adjustable from 230-245 cm, adjustable from 240-255 cm, and "other". The majority (44%) noted that they used adjustable shaft paddles in the 240-255 cm range. The next closest vote was for adjustable shaft paddles in the 230-245 cm at 22%. So 66% of paddlers preferred adjustable shaft options. Of the remaining choices, 5 of the respondents chose 230 cm, 3 chose 240 cm, 2 chose less than 230 cm, 2 chose 260 cm (with one paddler noting that he prefers the longer paddle because he stands and fishes a lot), 0 chose 250 cm, and 0 chose greater than 260 cm. What is my point with all of these numbers? First, they suggest that the majority of serious paddlers prefer versatility. Multiple anglers noted that they love the adjustable ferrules on the Bending Branches Angler Pro and AT Oracle and Odyssey. If you are going to be fishing a variety of types of water, you may prefer that versatility too. The other thing I would note is that everyone has a preference, and it is based on trying various options. For example, one of the paddlers noted that they are over 6' tall and paddle 31"-34" wide boats. If you go by a paddle chart, it would recommend that he uses a 250-270 cm paddle. His preference was 230 cm for almost all applications. In the words of Captain Barbossa, those charts are more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.



My Bending Branches Sun Shadow crank isn't quite "high performance", but it is a joy to use


The bottom line is this, make yourself a list of priorities, go see your local rep or dealer or kayak anglers association (because I bet it is filled with folks who will let you try their paddles), and find the paddle that is perfect for you - not some random guy online. Tight lines!