Archive

Tag Archives: Aqua-Bound

kayak-logo-clear

The IFA Kayak Fishing Tour held it’s first Louisiana division tournament of 2014 this past Sunday down in Empire at Delta Marina. 52 kayak anglers signed up to compete in the event and were treated with excellent weather conditions which ultimately meant a lot of nice fish had their pictures taken this past weekend.

With the event being Sunday I had a chance to pre-fish Saturday at an area I thought I could have some success at not too far from the weigh-in. I launched just after sunrise and paddled a short way over to what I hoped would be a trout spot and began plugging away with a Rapala Skitter Walk. It didn’t take long to get into fish and the first fish of the day ended up being the biggest. I was casting my topwater to a point and walking the dog back when a nice baby bull red decided to explode on it right next to the boat. At 28.75″ it would be a fine candidate for tomorrow’s tournament so she (or he – I don’t really know) was tagged in set back in the water. A few casts later around the same point resulted in another explosive take on the topwater, but this time it was a trout. It was a short and stout 17″ speck who didn’t look like she missed many meals. The day was off to a good start.

DCIM100GOPRO

IMG_2689

Fishing slowed at the point and I made my way through the marsh en route to another hopeful trout spot. As I paddled I noticed that water clarity here was not the greatest, even in the marsh, you could see a paddle blade deep at most. A bummer, but it was certainly still fishable. The tide was up as well, so most of the shallow flats were flooded which meant any sightfishing that would be done on the day was going to be pretty tough.

I found an area where a lot of water was being funneled through a narrow cut in some marsh. I staked out there and begin working the area. In short time I picked up a couple 14.5″ trout clones and an 11″ dink. Satisfied with the find I moved on – this was a scouting trip after all and I now had two spots I could possibly catch trout at tomorrow.

After I caught those trout I decided to do some exploring. I put the Aqua Bound Manta Ray carbon to work and started learning more of the area, fishing here and there. I picked up a couple rat reds in the marsh and then ran into one of my favorite situations – the moving cork. I love finding a moving cork on the water because you never know what is going to be under it – usually it is a solid fish! After a few errant casts I finally made a good one and hooked the line under the cork with my jig. Reeling in the cork I was really surprised to find a 16″ redfish on the end of the line. Who loses an entire cork setup to a 16″ redfish? At least the little guy had a pretty blue tail. The spot he was in had some good oyster bottom so I worked the area a little more and came up with a bit better red at 24″.

IMG_2690

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

I picked up a couple more slot reds in the marsh on the way back to the truck. Despite the high, stained water I caught them sightfishing. They were floaters so they gave themselves away fairly easily. I ended up having a pretty good day on the water catching around a dozen different redfish and trout. My aggregate for the day was 45.75″ which would have been good enough for sixth in last year’s IFA tournament. I could live with that so I tentatively planning to head back to the same spot on Sunday. I didn’t even make it to the big fish spot that had been recommended to me by a friend.

That evening was the captain’s meeting and one of the main reasons I enjoy fishing these events – I get to hang out with my kayak fishing friends and try to decipher the lies from the truths. One thing that was pretty consistent for everyone was that the water clarity was crap all over Louisiana and there weren’t a lot of big fish being caught. These two things helped cement my decision to head back to the same spot on Sunday. I was on decent fish so why not?

IMG_2692

Sunday morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise. I launched and made my way over to the point I had success at the day before. Water clarity today was better than the day before, so I was very optimistic. Doing everything I did the day prior though failed to yield the same results. I didn’t leave the spot empty handed however as a 16.5″ topwater red was all I could muster. Not a good sign but not time to panic. I made my way through the marsh toward the backup trout spot. On the way I ran across a flat that had a lot of activity. A pair of redfish cruised by my line of sight and soon I had an upgrade in the boat. At 23″ it still wasn’t what I was looking for in an upgrade but it would do for now. Unfortunately much like spot number one, the backup trout spot with the moving water failed to produce any fish.

IMG_2696

IMG_2698

At this point it was decision time, keep at it where I was at and hopefully pick up a trout and an upgrade at redfish or make the long paddle out to a spot that I was told would produce big trout and potential bull reds. With the weather as nice as it was it really didn’t take much time to pick the home run shot and put my Manta Ray carbon to work again. I was already almost two miles from the launch, this paddle would put me almost four miles away but it would all be worth it if I was able to get on some fish. One thing was for sure at least I didn’t have to worry about the wind.

IMG_2699.jpg

The paddle out to the spot went by faster than I thought it would be, I should have timed it but I didn’t. I guess I underestimated the speed of the Cuda 14. The IFA weekend was actually the first time I put my new Cuda 14 to work. I love this year’s urban camo – it is a really sharp looking pattern. The water clarity out here was beautiful. I worked the area hard, with every bait I had tied on. I got on a trout bite just slow rolling a jig through the area, unfortunately the size of the trout was nothing to brag about with 13.25″ being my biggest. I continued to work the area, but couldn’t come up with anything bigger. I decided to head back toward the marsh to try and upgrade my redfish. I was disappointed that all I had to show after the long paddle was a dink trout, but had I not made the paddle I probably wouldn’t have even had a trout, so it wasn’t a complete bust. Plus I got to check out a really cool spot that has lots of potential.

DCIM100GOPRO

IMG_2700

I fished hard the rest of the day and came up empty. 36.25″ was what I had to turn in. I knew that wasn’t good enough for anything, but I decided to make my way to the weigh-in anyway because it is a good rule of thumb to always turn in your fish. You just never know. After an excellent club sandwich and a lot of BSing with the guys we finally got to hear the results. No surprise here, but Steve Lessard came out on top with 61″. Steve is a friend and an excellent fisherman, he is no stranger to the leaderboard of our local kayak tournaments, when he talks you listen. Richard Webb took second with 59.50″ and big red at 41.75″. Richard was out of Jackson, MS fishing in his first IFA tournament. He got a tip to fish Venice and it paid off for him. I hope we see Richard at the Lafitte event later this summer. Benton Parrott took third with 55″ and big trout at 23″. Benton has a knack for catching big trout and he did it again this past weekend. The rest of the top 20 are below:

empire_kayak_top20_2014

As you can tell I finished out of the top 20 – I ended up 24th. What is crazy is that last year 36.25″ would have been 12th and actually been in the money (67 competitors). What a difference a year makes. I remember last year’s weather being much worse, that could explain the low numbers. Or it could be that the competition is getting better, experience is catching up with folks and we are seeing better fish all around. Perhaps it is a little of both.

Congrats to everyone who finished in the top 10 and made money fishing this past weekend. The aggregate lengths were very impressive this past weekend, can’t wait to see what happens at Lafitte on August 3rd.

Ken Whiting does a great job breaking down Aqua Bound’s Ray series of kayak paddles in this video. If you’re trying to figure what paddle is right for you, this is a great addition to a previous blog post I made: Kayak paddle sizing. I’ve enjoyed using both the Sting Ray Hybrid and the Surge Carbon from Aqua Bound and can definitely attest to the durability of their paddles. The carbon series is incredibly light weight as well, which means less fatigue when out on the water. Be sure to check out Aqua Bound when you’re in the market for a new paddle – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

A thread on BCKFC spurred this post on, but one of the most important decisions when first starting out kayak fishing, that a lot of people overlook, is choosing the right sized paddle. I know when I bought my first kayak I used whatever paddle came with it. I really didn’t know much about paddling or that there were even different sizes of kayak paddles. I was just happy to have a paddle and a kayak because now I could go catch redfish in my own boat. Like a lot of folks that begin kayak fishing I was a fisherman first and a paddler second and I still am, but I at least know a lot more about paddling now. At the time I didn’t know how important it would be to become a good paddler in order to become a better fisherman. Paddling is a whole different topic for another day, but needless to say your paddle is the most important tool you have while kayak fishing so spend a little time learning about paddles to know what might be right for you. You want a paddle that fits you and your paddling style.

Luckily Aqua Bound has a website that will really help shorten that learning curve. Their Kayak Paddle Sizing Guide takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process and lays out a good foundation for the beginning paddler. The guide is an excellent starting point for finding the paddle that is perfect for you.

They use a 5 step process to help determine what paddle is right for you. Step 1 of the process involves determining the dimensions of your kayak. Most fishing kayaks these days are pretty wide, especially those that we can stand in. That will play into the size of your paddle – typically the wider the boat, the longer the paddle.

Kayak-Width-Sizing-Chart

Step 2 takes a look at you and your fitness level:

  • More athletic paddlers generally want a shorter paddle with a wider blade for the extra horsepower that it provides.
  • Heavier or taller paddlers generally prefer a longer paddle with a wide blade to move their weight efficiently.
  • Smaller paddlers, those who are not into speed or those with wrist or shoulder issues typically choose blades with less surface area; those that want more power and desire a bigger bite on the water go for larger blades.

Torso-Size-Sizing-Chart

On Step 3 you want to determine the type of paddling you plan to do and the length of your outing. Most of my paddling in Louisiana is typically flat water and can involve covering some distance. I’ve done 10-12 mile round trips that often require an entire day to do, the last thing I want is to be fatigued by the weight of a paddle when I need that energy to cover ground and fight fish.

Lakes and rivers

      • If you’ll be paddling on lakes and slow-moving rivers, and spending a fair amount of time in your boat, a touring kayak paddle would be a good choice. Touring paddles are the mainstay in kayak paddles and are good for day tripping, river-running, exploring and camping.
      • On the other hand, if you don’t think you’ll spend a lot of time on the water, you might think about a recreational kayak paddle. This class of paddles is ideal for short trips, fishing, exercise, and shore exploration.
      • When paddling in shallow water, a plastic blade will provide you more durability as the blades hits gravel, sand and rocks. Many paddlers feel in these shallow conditions that a wider blade provides more bite even with half of the blade out of the water.
      • If, on the other hand, most of your paddling is in deep water, your blade shape and material are really a matter of the kind of stroke you prefer. See the following notes on your style of paddling (Step 5).
      • A kayak paddle with an ovalized shaft (vs. a perfectly round shaft) will allow you to orient the blades without looking and will be easier to hold and less fatiguing.

Extended trips on flat or moving water, including sea touring:

      • Again, if you’ll be spending a lot of time on the water, look at Touring Kayak Paddles or Performance Kayak Paddles. Generally, as you move up the line in these types of paddles, the paddles will get lighter.
      • For long trips or for paddlers who suffer from sore shoulders, some experts recommend you choose a light weight paddle with fiberglass or carbon composite blades.
      • For those who find themselves often pushing off rocks, gravel and sandy bottoms, select a paddle with injection-molded blades made of nylon or polypropylene and typically reinforced with glass or carbon fibers. These paddles provide the perfect blend of weight and durability. P.S. A kayak paddle is not a push pole. It will like you more if you get out rather than bouncing on the tip of your paddle to get off the rock you’re stuck on.
      • True enthusiasts typically choose a paddle with a stiff, efficient and responsive carbon shaft. This dramatically reduces weight, allowing for longer paddling with less fatigue.

Step 4 breaks down the types of paddles Aqua Bound offers. I have been very pleased with their products and would recommend them to anyone looking at getting a new paddle. For kayak fishing you can’t go wrong with anything in their Ray series(Manta Ray, Sting Ray, Eagle Ray), which one will depend on your paddling style.

Performance Kayak Paddles

      High-tech paddles for the kayaking enthusiast who wants the latest paddling innovations.

      • Paddles are super lightweight to reduce their swing weight and lessen fatigue.
      • Blades are stiffer to deliver more power with each stroke.
      • Shafts are all-carbon.
      • Ferrules provide more feathering options.
      • Ergonomic designs and light weight materials reduce joint strain.
      • Different blade shapes deliver a different type of experience.

Touring Kayak Paddles

      Durable paddles that are still comfortable after a full day on the water.

      • Special nylon resins and blade designs make them extremely light.
      • Blades are often reinforced with fiberglass or carbon, enhancing paddle’s durability.
      • Shafts are available in a range of options from fiberglass to carbon.
      • Ferrules provide more feathering options.
      • Different blade shapes deliver a different type of experience.

Recreational Kayak Paddles

      For short trips with your family or friends, fishing or shore exploring, these paddles are a great choice.

      • The lower-end of this paddle category is the heaviest and least expensive kayak paddle.
      • Blades are typically injection-molded plastic resin and shafts are generally aluminum or fiberglass.
      • Ferrule is straight-forward without many frills.
      • Durable and economically priced.

Finally in Step 5 determine what type of paddler you are. Kayak fishermen tend to be more high-angle paddlers using more aggressive strokes to get from one spot to another. My first Aqua Bound paddle was a Sting Ray Hybrid and I loved it. I now own a Surge Carbon and love it as well, though I am not as rough on it as I was with the Hybrid. Blake has a Manta Ray Hybrid that seems to suit him perfectly.

High-angle paddlers

High-angle paddlers keep the shaft more vertical during their stroke (perpendicular to the water). These paddlers typically use a shorter, wider blade and a paddle with a shorter shaft. This more upright paddling style permits a more powerful, athletic stroke. Paddlers who prefer to use a fast cadence (whitewater, racers, touring with fast cadence) usually prefer this shorter shaft, wider blade paddle, too.

Low-angle paddlers

Low-angle paddlers keep the paddle relatively horizontal (parallel to the water). Paddlers who use this more relaxed, cruising stroke often find that a paddle with a longer, thinner blade is most energy efficient. In fact, this is the most common paddling style in North America.

Just like with kayaks, there is no sure thing and picking one is a personal preference. The more you try out the better you’ll feel when you commit to making a purchase. Most retailers will have different paddles on hand when they hold their demo days, so try out as many as you can to find your style and size. If you can’t do that at least you’ll have this guide so you won’t be throwing darts in the dark.

Aqua-Bound

Some you may have noticed a new link on the sidebar to Aqua-Bound. I’m happy to announce I was lucky enough to be selected to their Pro Staff this year. This was really a no-brainer for me because if you watch the videos I post up, you’ll notice the Sting Ray Hybrid hanging off the paddle clip belt. I’ve had that paddle for 2 years now and I absolutely love it. It handles every situation I put it in, whether that be just paddling, paddle poling my way along sand flats, or shoving my way through low tide mud flats. It’s light, strong and just feels good in the hands. I can’t wait to try out some of the other paddles they offer, especially that Surge Carbon. A 25.5 oz paddle sounds too good to be true. If you’re looking for a new paddle definitely look into an Aqua-Bound. Check out their dealer locator on their website to find them near you.

DCIM100GOPRO