Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not my Malibu Kayaks Stealth 12 Review

Well, I was hoping to post a review of the Malibu Kayaks Stealth 12 today.  Unfortunately, I didn't get all of the footage and photos I wanted, so that one is on the back burner again.  And actually, I don't mind putting it on the back burner right now.  As many of those in the world of kayak fishing now know, Malibu Kayaks is currently a mess.  Issues within the company have led to a court case, ongoing settlements, and a company that is up in the air.  Things look to be heading in the right direction for MK, but nothing has been set in stone.  How this will affect me as a pro-staff member is yet to be seen.  There are a lot of mixed emotions within the team right now and a lot of frustration.  I will say that I have fallen in love with my boat - the Stealth 12 and was hoping to add a Stealth 9 & 14 to the stable in the next year or so.  My fingers are crossed that it all gets worked out!

Although I could rant about my feelings for a few paragraphs, I think I will talk about a short trip I took the other day instead.  A friend of mine has been going through a rough patch in his life and had some major life changes.  He has fought hard and is trying to scratch and claw his way back to normalcy.  I have helped him through much of his fight and am glad to see him making headway.  He called me last weekend and just plain and simple needed to get out for a while.  I was a little torn because I had some work to do and had smashed up my knee on a rock while fishing the day before.  But, I limped my way out the door and headed to Durham.  

We hit the water in search of catfish in a small lake near his house.  The bite was slow at first, but after a move from a drop off to a long point, it started picking up.  For the next couple of hours, we did pretty well, landing a mix of catfish in the 1-4 lb range and a few sunfish as well.  We shot the breeze and enjoyed the gorgeous, sunny day outdoors.  Eventually, we ran out of bait and headed back toward the car.  On the way back, I decided to do a little bass fishing and started throwing a plastic worm around shoreline cover.  The cover at this lake looked amazing, but I couldn't get a nibble, aside from a small warmouth.  Finally, at the last real piece of structure before the car I skipped a cast up under a shady log. The fish inhaled the worm on the fall and it was GAME ON!  She went airborne multiple times and just about pulled me into a huge bush on the bank.  But, after some one handed paddling maneuvers I got her into open water and fought her to the boat.  The chunky bass went 19" and probably about 4 lbs.  It was a great way to cap the day.



We loaded up and I headed home for a date with the couch and a cold drink.  There I knocked out some work while the dogs and I waited for Mary May to get done at the hospital.

Unfortunately, tomorrow will not be the release of Episode 1 of the BASS Slam.  I am still waiting on one more piece of footage and as soon as I get it, things will be ready to roll.  I am not sure if there will be a fill-in tomorrow or not....you'll have to wait and see.  Tight lines!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Outdoor and Social Media and it's Rapidly Evolving Role in Kayak fishing

There is no denying that the popularity of kayak fishing is growing exponentially.  And although there are many factors that are contributing to this growth, the most obvious are the roles that outdoor and social media are playing.  A big thing a lot of folks want to know, and that I discuss with Bill and Mary May, is how to get your name out there and showcase yourself in a professional, yet fun manner.  With this blog, I hope to shed a little light on how I try and use media to share my knowledge with others and also some of the pitfalls of being so accessible. 

I should start by saying that I am not a professional kayak angler - at least by my definition.  I am a very avid kayak fisherman and outdoorsman as well as pro-staffer and (part time) guide.  However, I make a living doing something completely different.  But would I love to be a full time outdoorsman?  Would I trade 6 years of grad school and two graduate degrees for the right job in the outdoor industry?  You bet I would!

So, what are some things I do to help market myself?  The first thing is to make sure you can back it up.  You need to put in the time and do your homework on the water before you charge into things.  Because no matter how things go for you in tournaments or with other activities, if you can catch 'em then you will have a commodity that folks in the industry look for and will never let you down.  A big part of this is being diverse and relying on your intuition.  That means taking the time to learn and push yourself.  For instance, I was on the river Saturday scouting a new piece of water.  The bite was good and in seemingly no time I had landed about 15 bass on a Texas rigged Deep Creek Luresworm.  However, I am fairly comfortable fishing a Texas-rig, so I switched to a flipping set-up with a DC Floating Flip Craw.  Flipping is one of those techniques that can catch fish and catch them quick if you know what you are doing.  At one point in my life, I thought I was decent at flipping, but the more I learned about the technique, the more I learned how wrong I was.  I am still not terribly good at flipping, but I am improving and that is all I can ask of myself.  I only landed about 7 more bass, but I caught them all standing and flipping in my Malibu Stealth 12.  The second part of the above statement - intuition - is one of the most important things a fisherman can have, in my opinion.  If you can learn to trust your gut based on time and practice, you will be a hard person to beat come tournament day.  And if you can couple that with confidence...watch out!




 Fish on - while standing and pitching/flipping to holes in grass mats in FL


So, at this point you can fish and you are involved in the local tournament scene, now it is time to take the next step.  It is time to branch out to the interweb.  Find some websites that have active forums and get involved.  My favorites are NCangler.com and RiverBassin.com.  The communities there are great and you can learn a lot by reading and sharing.  However, even in the best communities, there can be some pitfalls.  I quickly found out that if you give too much information in your fishing reports, then people get mad that you are "giving away their "secret" spots"...ya know, the spots you found on your own by trial and error.  Of course, if you give too little information, you run the risk of everyone thinking you a braggart.  So, finding the best balance for your posts is important.  Also, forums are a prime example of the phrase, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  Don't take the time to tell the guy holding a 3 pounder and claiming it is a 6 pounder that he is wrong, just let it go.  Also, don't let your ego get in the way.  There will always be "that guy".  It might be the guy who catches an 8 lber each week in his private farm pond and needs to brag about it, the guy who talks smack endlessly before each tournament, or the guy who is just flat-out rude.  Turn the other cheek and head to another website...preferably this one.

Suddenly you are the talk of the message boards - it is time to launch into the world of social media.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube...everyone and their brother has an account.  So take the time to make friends with other folks in the industry.  Always be open to help others or give positive advice.  Be ready to help folks for little (if anything) in return.  The outdoor community is a tight knit group, and although it has its cliques, overall it is an incredibly friendly and helpful bunch.  Then start producing good content.  Take good pictures, make high quality movies, and go the extra mile to set yourself apart.  Do not post 50 pictures of yourself holding 10 inch bass.  Do not only take photos of fish on a measuring board.  Do not put up movies that you threw together in 3 minutes.  Do not use profanity or post inappropriate content.  Get your face in the shots, talk to the camera, get some action shots, get some scenery, and take the time to make it all look good.  During my recent BASS Slam trip, the hardest part was to put down the rod and film.  But good film and photos are important in todays world of technology and media, so it is a must...do it.


My pictures aren't National Geographic material, but I have learned that taking good ones is a must!


The next step, which is one I took, is to start your own website or blog.  Blogs, again, can be a delicate balance.  Blog purists think them totally organic, so they should have no advertisements, logos, etc.  Most realists understand that blogs have a ton of potential and should be utilized.  I started my blog to share my experiences and knowledge.  It was also a welcome break from the math and science that plagued my everyday life.  Now, it still has the same roots that it started with, but has grown into a place I can share reviews and highlight some of my sponsors and affiliates.  In my experience, having a blog has been nothing but a good thing.  You will note that this blog does not share my thoughts on politics, religion, gay rights, or any other taboo subjects.  For those that do, I have no issue with that.  But a professional (or pseudo-professional website) should be just that.  And of course, you need to keep it updated.  Trust me, it isn't always easy to sit down and blog each week.  I try to shoot for 2 posts a week.  Sometimes that doesn't happen and other times it does, but one post a month doesn't cut it.

If you get to this point, the key is to keep working hard and creating new challenges for yourself.  For me, it was taking on the BASS Slam this year.  It is also to become more involved in charity and community service work.  If you keep challenging yourself and pushing yourself, good things will happen.  But the bottom line for me is to always have fun on the water and enjoy your time outdoors with family and friends.

Having fun spending time outdoors with friends and family is what it is all about.


And last, but not least, be prepared to put a target on your back.  Because the industry is growing so fast, everyone wants a piece of the pie.  As I said before, the yak fishing community is a fantastic group of folks, but there will be people who will take issue with things you say or do.  I know there are people here in NC who dislike the fact that I went to Duke and  because of that go out of there way to throw rude comments my way.  Now, I love some good natured ribbing about the rivalry, but there is always a line.  Another aspect is being a younger guy in the industry.  Heck, some pro-staff guys out there are barely 20.  At times I see them say and do things that I know they will regret one day, just as I did.  Personally, I have had some serious road bumps and ups and downs along my path, but I have learned an immense amount from my mistakes and really tried to use them to grow as a person and angler.  When things got tough, there were guys who there for me, supported me, and helped me through things.  As a younger guy, these mentors were really important for me.  You really can't get anywhere, not just in this industry, but in life, without the proper support....and not everyone out there has your best interests in mind.

So being accessible has its pros and cons, but overall it is by far a good thing.  Getting comments on my blogs or videos, emails, or private messages can really make my day.  I have had some awesome emails from folks over the past year or two, but recently one really stood out.  It was in response to an article written about my attempt of the BASS Slam by Bill Howard that ran in the Wilson Times last week.  Coincidentally, I met Bill via social media.  The email was from a woman named Gail, the mother of David Roberson.  Dave grew up in Durham, but the Air Force took him all over the world.  In Italy, he fell in love with bass fishing and a passion began.  It eventually led him to California where he began targeting giant bass.  Naturally, he became addicted to swimsuit fishing and eventually began developing his own baits.  After some trial and error, engineering, development, and tweaks, he began producing them as Orso Baits.  You can find info about Dave and the baits via a Google search, including videos of the infamous "Dave Cam".  Dave suffered a cardiac arrest in 2009 and passed away at the age of 35.  It was evident how passionate Dave was about fishing by the way his mother spoke of him.  He and I have a lot in common and it really puts things in perspective.  Emails like this really motivate and inspire me and I really appreciate Gail taking the time to write.


The "Dave Cam" - chucking swimbaits on Jordan Lake, NC


My fingers are crossed that the rest of the schedule this week stays in tact, but I am not sure if I have enough time to get everything done.  If not, I will have something up....I promise.  Until tomorrow, tight lines!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mary May and I Visit an Old Catfish Haunt - Blog Post #100

Last Thursday Mary May had a half day at work, so I made sure to put in a little over time in advance so that I too could take a half day.  We didn't have a ton of time, but decided to grab the yaks and head to a local lake to chase some catfish.  Catfishing holds a special place in our hearts - after all, it is what we did the first time we met.  Plus, this particular lake has some fairly big cats, including a beast that broke Mary May's line last spring.

When I go catfishing, I like to keep it simple.  I typically use chicken livers, cut bait, or chicken marinated in garlic and fish it on a Carolina Rig with a size 2/0 or 3/0 circle hook and a 1/2 oz or more barrel sinker above a swivel.  Realistically, the fish I target are 20 lbs or less.  If I caught one bigger, it would be awesome, but when I catfish I am out to have fun rather than trophy hunt.  One of these days I do need to trophy hunt from a kayak, but I digress.  I use 8-15 lb fluorocarbon line and medium to medium heavy bass gear.  If you catch a big cat on that set-up (10 lbs or more) then you are in for a fantastic fight.

On this particular afternoon, we armed ourselves with chicken livers and minnows.  I typically prefer fishing for cats at night, but if you can find good areas you can catch them all day.  We pulled up to our first spot and got set up.  After 30 minutes of nothing we moved a little more.  And after another 15 minutes without a nibble we moved to a location that had been particularly good to us in the past.

We made the short paddle across the lake, anchored using our YakAttack Park N Poles, and threw our livers toward a drop off.  If you have done much fishing with chicken livers, you may know how hard they are to keep on the hook.  It can be downright frustrating at times!  Although there are lots of tricks out there to help, I find the simplest way is to just make sure you try and hook some fat or signew when you put it on the hook.  Also, cast the rod without the same wrist snap you using when using artificial baits.  You need to lob livers to keep them from breaking free of the hook.





So anyway, we didn't have to wait long before our first bites.  In fact, we doubled right off the bat....Mary May's was bigger.  Then we doubled again....and again hers was bigger.  Then I decided to switch things up a little and try some cut bait with one of the bigger minnows that had croaked on us.  That turned out to be a good decision.

Over the next hour or so the cats were eating everything we threw at them and we had caught a bunch of  decent size cats, albeit a little on the skinny side.  My biggest came when I threw my cut shad right along the bank near the drop off.  As soon as it hit the water a fish nailed it and ran like crazy.  I could tell that it was a big fish by the bend it was putting in my rod and it was going nuts.  I could feel the head shakes as it ran for deep water.  It fought and fought before finally surfacing.  It was a really nice size catfish for the little lake we were fishing.  It was a little on the skinny side again, but it was a long fish - measuring roughly 24".  We took a few photos and let the brute go.





The bite slowed a bit after we caught the bit guy, but we were still catching them and having fun.  Finally, we both started to wear down and tried one last spot.  I only got one bite there, but it was a really nice bullhead (or mud cat).  In fact, I think it was the biggest I ever caught.  I should have gotten an official measurement, because it was somewhere in the 13"-15" range.  If it reached the 15" mark, it would officially qualify for an NC Fishing Citation as a trophy fish.  I don't really care about having the actual piece of paper in hand, but I do like knowing that I accomplished the feat.  Rookie move Drew!

We then headed for shore, loaded the yaks, and swung by Cookout for some delicious post-fishing milkshakes.   It was a great ending to a great day with a great woman....and a perfect trip to commemorate blog post #100!  Tight lines!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Coming up next from Man Powered Fishing

Since returning from my BASS Slam road trip, things have been crazy.  I have been busting my butt to catch up with work, as well as time with Mary May and the pups.  Balancing work, family, and pursuit of dreams is one of the hardest things I do....or at least try to do.  Anyway, combined with video editing, it has all kept this blog empty and I apologize for that.  However, Episode 1 is on the horizon and should be out next week...I can't wait!

This week, in particular, has been a roller coaster of news - I got one of the most moving emails I have ever received, found out I will be on Coast2Coast Outdoors in August, and got some potentially brutal news about the future of Malibu Kayaks.  It is all going to be penned in the next 10 days.

Here is what you can expect to see on MPF in the near future:
Monday - Fishing Report:  MM and I go catfishin'
Tuesday - Outdoor Media and how it pertains to me, MPF, and the BASS Slam
Wednesday - Malibu Kayaks Stealth 12 Review
Thursday - Quest for the BASS Slam Episode 1 - The Florida Strain Largemouth

Soon after that will be my interview with Bill Howard as he chases a different slam, but finds similar challenges and hopefully a couple more fishing reports.

So, I leave you until Monday with this picture.  This was one of the skinniest blue cats I have ever caught, but it was still a long fish.  Anyone want to wager a guess at the length?



Tight lines!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quest for the BASS Slam Teaser

I almost forgot...again.  Right before the trip we released this little BASS Slam Teaser on Facebook and YouTube.  I completely forgot to post it here.  So, for a sneak peak - take a look!  Oh and this was not our first choice for music, but YouTube had some issues with our first choice.  This one we grabbed off a creative commons licensing page.  Not too shabby for a guy in front of his computer in his mom's basement.




Tight lines!

Monday, June 4, 2012

What a Road Trip! - Quest for the BASS Slam Part I is Complete

It was an incredible week - to say the least.  Our journey challenged and exhausted us, but was worth every second.  It had ups and downs, but in the end, it always came back to us, our kayaks, and the rivers beneath us...and those back home supporting us and rooting us on.  We left North Carolina on May 25th and spent the next 8 days traveling the southeast in pursuit of the majority of the 9 black bass species that inhabit US waters.  We traveled over 2300 miles, fished 7 rivers and creeks, and caught 6 species of black bass plus the Bartrams Bass.  You will have to wait until the first episode of our web series comes out to find out how we did, but I will give you a few tidbits from the trip.

One of the hundreds of turtles we saw on the Santa Fe River in FL

What can you expect from the web series?
We have hours upon hours upon hours of video footage to edit.  But, you can expect it to be a shortened version of a typical fishing show...except more adventurous.  It will include commentary, scenery, fish ID info, catches, and clue you in on how we were catching them.  Expect the first episode in the next 2-3 weeks.  Note that we will typically give general locations where we fished rather than exact launches or even rivers.  Planning and logistics for this trip took a lot of hard work and we expect anyone else chasing a slam to put in the same work.

What were our favorite rivers?
My favorite river, so far, is the Santa Fe River of north-central FL.  It's clear water, springs, ample cover, and hard fighting Suwannee bass really set it apart for me.  Bill's favorite river was one in northwest Georgia where we targeted Bartrams Bass.  It looked more like a trout stream than bass waters and was a challenging place to fish.

A Redeye Bass from north Georgia


What was our favorite species to catch?
My favorite was the Suwannee Bass.  Maybe that is also why I enjoyed the Santa Fe River so much, but man these fish pack a punch.  I think they were the hardest fighting fish we caught - and we had some fantastic fights.  If I had to make a guess, I would say Bill's was the Alabama Spotted Bass.  They hit like freight trains and put up a heck of a fight as well.

What kind of cameras did we use?
We used 2 GoPro Hero cameras as well as a Canon S100.  We did everything on a budget, so we couldn't spring for the really fancy stuff.  However, I know we were both really happy with the quality of the video from these cameras.  A big thanks to Sean Brodie of Canepole Adventures for his help in choosing the camera and recording equipment.

The Canon S100 helped us capture some amazing shots...like this photo of the teeth on a shoal bass


What kind of gear did we use?
We used a wide variety of gear, but I will touch on 3 pieces of equipment that exceeded expectations during the trip.  First was my 6'9" spinning rod from Carolina Custom Rods.  The rod is made for fishing drop-shots, shakey heads, and weightless plastics.  All I can say is WOW....I will be getting a second one of those rods in the very near future.  Second would be my Crack of Dawn Black Diamond paddle.  The carbon fiber paddle arrived at my house just 2 days before the trip and after 8 days of paddling hard, smacking off of rocks, and grinding on river bottom - it looks almost as good as new.  Plus, I know it's super light weight made it easy to swing...even on day 8.  Third is the kayaks themselves- Malibu Stealth 12s.  These boats got an extreme test - tropical storm Beryl, high winds, torrential downpours, rocky shoals, class II+ rapids, shallow drags...you name it.  They were overall impressive - speed, stability, handling, etc.  If you are looking for a great all-around boat, I just can't say enough about them.

Fishing the lily pad filled rivers of central FL was great, but the 11-12 ft gator we saw did make us a little nervous


What is left?
On this trip, we actually caught qualifying largemouth bass, but did not photograph them properly to qualify for the slam.  So, we still need to catch qualifying Largemouth, Smallmouth, Northern Spotted, and Guadalupe Bass.  We might also have to make a decision as to whether or not we want to head south again before May 25, 2013.

How much time and planning does the slam take?
Preparation for this leg of the slam was tough.  Since NC has only 3 of the required species, it meant we had to do a lot of research to track down the other bass.  For a few of them, we ended up on very stereotypical waters, such as chasing shoal bass in the Flint River.  Others we ended up fishing small tributary creeks that most people overlook.  Either way, be prepared to put in the leg work if you plan on doing in on your own.  Although I did the huge majority of planning by myself (mainly via Google), I did reach out to other members of the river fishing community for advice and ideas.

A big thanks again to Mary May and Misty for loving and supporting us through this craziness and thanks to the following folks who helped us in one way or another:  Broad River Outpost (GA), Gordon and Helen Haerer, Drew and Ange Waligora, Drew Gregory, Evan Howard, Todd Unzicker, Tim Perkins and his family, Sean Brodie, Pat Kellner, and Tony Hart.

Also, before I forget, we apologize for the tardiness of the giveaways.  We had very spotty internet when on the road and have been exhausted since.  We will get all of that sorted out and announced this week.

If you have any questions you would like to ask us about our adventures so far, please feel free to email me at drew@manpoweredfishing.com and I will answer them in upcoming blogs.  Until then...tight lines!