Niagara River/Lake Ontario Fish are NOT SOCIAL Distancing, THEY”RE ON THE BITE!

NIAGARA USA King Salmon bite BEGINS!

  • Shore fishing is VERY GOOD…spoons and spinners…bring a camera!
  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for April 8, 2020, from Destination Niagara USA
  • Boat fishing is good for Kings, Lakers, Steelhead, the Big Bass are just starting up
Stephanie Pierleoni of Newfane went fishing with her husband, Capt. Vince Pierleoni, out of Olcott this week and reeled in this king salmon.

Social distancing is critical when it comes to fishing, both onshore and in a boat.

COVID-19 continues to expand across the state and slowing that curve is important and we are moving forward. We are fortunate in that our boat launch ramps are still open, and we have plenty of shore fishing options available to us. Please stay safe out there and use your head to limit the spread.

With hatchery fish stocking taking place both in the Great Lakes waters and inland waters, please take note that there are special distinctions between both areas. The Great Lakes waters include lakes Erie and Ontario and the tributaries up to the first impassible barrier (such as a dam). Trout and salmon that are stocked as fingerlings and yearlings follow a certain protocol – put, grow and take. They are not meant to be taken immediately after they are stocked in places like the Wilson or Olcott harbors.

Nancy Colavecchia of Niagara Falls caught her biggest bass ever in the upper Niagara River this week.

For the Lake Ontario basin, the minimum size for browns, rainbows, and Pacific salmon is 15 inches in length. Some people have been catching and keeping trout well under that size close to shore. There are certainly more regulations than just these (such as new rules in the tributaries for brown trout (1 per person) and rainbow/steelhead (1 per person with a minimum size of 25 inches) and it’s important to know them before you head out.

The big news is that there have finally been reports of smelt being taken in the lower Niagara River. While Lewiston Landing (the sand docks) didn’t produce anything, they did get some at Artpark, to the south, and from docks to the north. The best time was after 11 p.m.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a dandy lower river brown trout he caught from shore using a No. 4 spinner.

Fishing in the lower river for trout continues to be good to very good depending on who you talk to. Steelhead, brown trout and lake trout are all being caught by anglers fishing from boat and shore. Water visibility is about 5-6 feet.  Spinners from shore are still producing trout in the gorge. Boaters are drifting minnows, egg sacs or running plugs like Kwikies or MagLips off three-way rigs. Bass are starting to turn on as the waters warm up both in the lower and upper rivers. It was around 45 degrees this week.  

Matt Tall of Wilson caught this 23-pound king salmon fishing with Capt. Tyler Morrison out of Wilson this week.

Some more exciting news is that the king salmon fishing has started to turn on in Lake Ontario.

Matt Tall of Wilson and Capt. Taz Morrison out of Wilson worked their lures in 30 to 80 feet of water to take some nice kings and lake trout. They caught kings to 25 pounds. Conditions change almost daily, says Tall, with things warming up so fast. They were running stickbaits and spoons mostly, working in 46 degrees surface temperature. The temperature doesn’t change much until you get out to 90 feet of water.

Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls caught this big steelhead in the lower Niagara River this week from shore in the gorge area.

Lake trout are eating everything in sight. James DeGirolamo of Derby reports that they were fishing anywhere from 180 to 220 feet of water straight out from Olcott. They had meat rigs and spoons working, with trout and salmon hitting most everything, but spoons are the way to go.

Capt. Tyler Morrison of West End Charters shows off a 25-pound king salmon he caught this week out of Wilson.

Terry Swann of Wilson reports that bullheads are biting at the Wilson-Tuscarora Park boat launch and in the West Branch of 12-mile Creek. Worms and shrimp seem to be the bait of choice.

A few nice perch are showing up too. Pier action has been good for trout in both Wilson and Olcott. Spoons and spinners or live bait under a float work best.

Tributary action has slowed a bit and with the rains from last night and more is forecasted through Friday. It will probably muddy things up and create higher flows.

Stay safe out there.

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

Inline image 2
Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303

Trolling for Winter Crappie, Grenada Lake Style

  • Pontoon Boat crappie fishing offers spacious fun
  • Grenada Lake crappie are the biggest I have ever seen
  • Secret 20-foot long crappie rods are not imaginative, you should see the net!
Can you imagine fishing from a pontoon boat 24-feet long? The Model 824 Crappie Qwest Pontoon Boat has everything you need for fishing and more.

By Jason Houser

Are you looking for a big crappie? Well, look no further than the lake dubbed, “the home of three-pound crappie.”

Jordan Blair couldn’t be happier.

It might not have three-pound crappie hiding behind every submerged stump, but it holds its fair share of some big slabs. Not accustomed to catching crappie much over 12-inches in my home state of Illinois, the thought of catching trophy crappie was exciting. My wife, nephew, and mother were looking forward to this trip.

Our journey would be to Grenada, Mississippi to meet up with Jason Golding, owner of Grenada Lake Charters, who has decades of experience guiding clients to trophy crappie. Add-in state of the art, roomy, fishing pontoons from Angler Qwest, mouth-watering food and luxurious, yet cozy cabins, we knew we were about to embark on a fishing adventure that we would not soon forget.

Pulling up to the headquarters of Grenada Lake Charters, we found a spacious outdoor kitchen named the “Slab Shack,” it is equipped with all the amenities of a home kitchen, plus a fire pit. What more could you ask for? In no time, ribeye steaks and baked potatoes found the grill top that were soon on our plates along with fresh vegetables and bread. When you thought you had enough to eat, they brought out the homemade ice cream and pie. With full bellies, we planned out the next day’s schedule as we relaxed next to a warm fire. Soon after that, we retired for the night to a spacious “cabin” that I could have easily called home.

A grill full of perfectly-cooked ribeye steaks, does it get any better?

Having the opportunity to catch big crappie is one thing, but being able to do it in comfort is something different. Something else that was different was the act of trolling for crappies. Using 20-foot poles, we slowly maneuvered the pontoon through the stumps until a pole doubled over, raised the rod tip upward until the fish broke the water’s surface and was scooped up by an extra-long net. Admittedly, it took a little while to get used to not reeling when a fish took advantage of our minnows.

My wife, Lotte, holds up a pair of nice crappie caught while fishing with Grenada Lake Charters

Several times we had doubles and even triples. Not only that, but enough times that I lost count, the same angler was pulling in two crappies at once. Thankfully, the Model 824 Crappie Pontoon Boat by Angler Qwest provided enough room that we were able to stay out of each other’s way when things got a little hectic. Even I was able to make easy work of netting the fish. With a whopping 24-feet of pontoon boat length, it was pretty nice not having to trip over each other as we fought fish after fish.

If you have ever wanted to catch your limit of big crappie, Grenada Lake Charters are the people you need to contact They will work hard to get you on the fish. With fully exclusive packages, these trips are great for the entire family, a group of friends, or corporate events.

A warm fire on a cool autumn night was a great way to kick off the start to a great fishing trip with my family.

While this is the first time I had fished out of an Angler Qwest pontoon, I can’t say enough about these boats. I had never given any thought to fishing out of a pontoon, but have quickly become a believer in their many capabilities, even in rough water. With ample seating, plenty of storage, room to easily move about and a smooth ride, these boats are everything you need to fish or swim or picnic.  A great advantage to this boat is that they are built with the fisherman in mind, but they can be used for water skiing, entertaining, or doing absolutely nothing. These options might make it easier to convince your significant other to let you buy a “new pontoon boat for the family” without using the word “for fishing.”

Not only are crappie one of my favorite fish to eat, but the excitement of non-stop action has me already planning my next trip to Grenada Lake. And, after fishing from that Model 824 Crappie Pontoon Boat from Angler Qwest, I am doing a little more thinking about my next boat purchase.

For more info on those secretive 20-foot crappie poles, or to catch some whopper crappie just for the fun of it, give Grenada Lake Charter a holler at  For more info about the Model 824 Crappie Pontoon Boat and other Angler Qwest Pontoons, visit

The Slab Shack, the perfect outdoor kitchen.

Holiday Gift-Giving “From-the-Heart” Made Easy for Outdoor Folks

  • Outdoor Holiday Gifts for Friends and Family
  • One-stop shopping even when you are not sure what to buy
  • Buy a $15 coupon to support Youth and Military Veterans, earn up to $5,000 in discounts

By Forrest Fisher

Most outdoor folks have little time for shopping, even for their loved ones and best friends of the outdoors. Well now, the 2019 Online Holiday Sportsman Show can help you make a good choice in very little time with their interactive online shopping offers. Visit the outdoor show halls to find exceptional outdoor products and gifts at discount prices for everyone on your list. The Online Show allows shoppers to avoid crowds, traffic, and parking.  Stay at home and visit with hundreds of exhibitors to help make selecting the perfect outdoor gifts for outdoor enthusiasts easier than ever.

If you are looking for even deeper discounts on great products at the Holiday Sportsman Show, consider a $15 Fundraiser coupon package will open the door to more than $5,000 of exclusive savings for a wide range of gifts and products.  Gain instant cash discounts and 10 to 50 percent discounts on larger offerings, like a fishing trip or hunting trip vacation. The best part is that this coupon purchase will directly benefit our youth, conservation and U.S. veteran groups across the United States. For more information on the Fundraiser Coupon, visit and click on “Discount Coupons” at the bottom of the opening page. The fundraiser program helps consumers extend their holiday purchasing power while supporting Kids, Conservation and Veterans.

With the Holiday Sportsman Show, sit back, relax and have a stress-free holiday shopping experience. The show is open through Dec. 31.

The Online Holiday Sportsman Show is a property of Vexpo Marketing that also produces the award-winning website. 

Let’s Bond with Nature this Saturday, Sep. 28 – Rick Clunn asks…”Join Me, Please.”

  • National Geographic’s current issue is about that fragile connection between all things
  • We all need nature to help us
  • Celebrate by locating an NHF Day event near where you live, there are many.

By Rick Clunn

The photos, this one and the one below, are of my Dad and Mom sharing the outdoors with me.

Saturday is National Hunting and Fishing Day, and I know that there is some special day to celebrate almost every day, but Hunting and Fishing are the last remaining vehicles to keep the masses connected to nature and like my Dad use to say, “Daphine (my Mom), if I don’t get in the woods or on the water this weekend, I am going to go crazy.”

What was a prophetic statement for him, it is equally true for society.

National Geographic’s current issue is about that fragile connection between all things. It stated that, “If you dig deep enough behind virtually every human conflict, you will find an erosion of the bond between humans and the natural world around them.” What I am most proud of with my relationship with Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops is their endless work trying to maintain a healthy connection between humans and the outdoors through their Conservation efforts.

So join me and Bass Pro shops in celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day this Saturday, the 28th of September. But take it one more step! Take a friend, family member, someone on an adventure, go fishing or hunting. I have stated before, that I am hard-pressed to remember a single gift I received, but can easily recall many fishing, hunting, and camping adventures. The photos are of my Dad and Mom sharing the outdoors with me.

Quote from Edward Abbey: “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends. Ramble out yonder and explore the forest, climb the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely mysterious and awesome space.”

Visit me to share your thoughts:



Editor Note: This article and the pictures were provided by Rick Clunn via Facebook to share with all outdoor persons, their neighbors, and friends.


Enjoy Easy, Pain-Free Fish Retrieval with the Angler’s Best Livewell Buddy®

Every fisherman knows, or quickly learns, that retrieving your catch or baitfish from the Livewell can be a sticky and painful experience—that is until now. With the Angler’s Best Livewell Buddy, retrieving your catch or baitfish, even the elusive pinfish, is quick, easy and painless.
The Livewell Buddy is a flexible, floating net that allows the fish to move freely thru circulated water and easily fits in any standard Livewell, or it can easily be attached alongside a boat, canoe or kayak that is not equipped with a Livewell to store your catch or your bait fish. It also can be tethered to you when wade fishing. As you fish, simply drop your catch into the Livewell Buddy’s durable silicone net.
Retrieving your entire catch out of the Livewell Buddy is as simple as grabbing the floatation ring and lifting the Livewell Buddy out, along with your full bounty. There is no need to net or handle the fish, which eliminates the dreaded “fish splash” and  “finning” injuries. For culling the smaller fish, the Livewell Buddy is a non-invasive alternative to conventional cull systems. After culling the smaller fish, simply drop the Livewell Buddy back into the water or your Livewell.
The new Livewell Buddy is ideal for freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, kayak or canoe fishing or anywhere else that fish need to be kept alive in the water. It can also double as a bait basket for larger baitfish or hard-to-catch bait fish. It only takes seconds to drop in a Livewell, and is ideal for everyone from the tournament fisherman to the weekend warrior. The Livewell Buddy’s floatation ring also allows it to be used in open water while bank fishing, surf fishing or wade fishing.
Bring home some fresh catch with the new Livewell Buddy. The multi-purpose Livewell Buddy is currently available at for a suggested retail of $39.99. Bon Appetite.
Headquartered in Danville, Ala., Angler’s Best is a designer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art fishing accessories. For additional information on Angler’s Best, write to: Angler’s Best , 8237 Danville Road, Danville, AL 35619; call 833-BASS-NET (833-227-7638); or visit

KAYAK Bass Championship – May 28-31 in Cookeville, TN

Local resident Eric Jackson, a champion kayaker, USA Bass team captain, and president/CEO of Jackson Kayak.

  • Elite Kayak Anglers from Around the Globe to Attend First-of-Its-Kind Competition 
  • Cookeville, Tennessee selected to host the first-ever Pan-American Kayak Bass Championship May 28-31, 2019
Local resident Eric Jackson, a champion kayaker, USA Bass team captain, and president/CEO of Jackson Kayak.

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, along with USA Bass and Pan-American Sportfishing Federation, announced today that Cookeville will serve as home to the inaugural Pan-American Kayak Bass Championship, May 28 – 31, 2019.

The first-of-its-kind in the world, the four-day event will welcome more than 100 of the most elite kayak bass anglers from around the globe to Center Hill Lake. The exclusive competition is invitation only and is expected to include participants from Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, Canada, and more. More than forty Pan-American countries will be invited.

“Cookeville is a world-class destination and the perfect place to showcase our state’s warm hospitality and incredible natural resources, including the lakes, rivers and streams unique to our Upper Cumberland,” said Commissioner Mark Ezell, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “This is a tremendous win for Tennessee, and we know Putnam County will set a high standard for visitors who want to return year after year.”

In addition to being an inaugural Pan-American championship, officials with the Confederation Internationale de Peche Sportive (CIPS) will be in attendance to evaluate the potential for officially making kayak bass fishing a world championship level sport.

“Cookeville and Center Hill Lake quickly became the clear choice to host this historic event,” said Tony Forte, U.S. Angling founder and USA Bass president. “Kayak fishing is exploding worldwide and the Pan-American Sportfishing Federation felt it was time to make it an official sport.”

“This event is not just a launching point for Pan-American countries, but also in-line to become a world championship sport and push toward Olympic recognition. Our USA Bass team led by Captain Eric Jackson is looking forward to hosting kayak bass fishing’s best. We thank the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau for their support and hope to see plenty of fans at the event and following via various media outlets.”

The visitors’ bureau plans to leverage its strong partnerships with local outdoor enthusiasts, such as Jackson. As an Olympian, champion kayaker, and president/CEO of Jackson Kayak, partners such as this will offer an added advantage in hosting and supporting the logistics for this event.

Cookeville is no stranger to high level fishing attention, having hosted multiple internationally televised fishing shows on the Outdoor and Sportsman Channels and the World Fishing Network, e.g. Major League Fishing GEICO Select Series, Fishing University, and Kayak Bassin’ TV.

“We have been working for several months to recruit this big win for our community,” said Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development, Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau. “As we prepared the bid-proposal for this event, we knew Cookeville-Putnam County was a natural fit.”

“We have an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who want to compete on calm and bass-filled waters,” added Ledbetter. “Aside from the outstanding hospitality of our community, the value of our natural assets allows us to welcome anglers from all over the world.”

Participants are expected to arrive early for pre-fishing various area waters, e.g. Center Hill, Cordell Hull, Dale Hollow Lake, Caney Fork, Falling Water, and Calfkiller Rivers. They are also anticipated to stay and explore more local attractions, waterfalls, downtown life, etc. following the competition.

Other destinations considered for hosting privileges included Columbia, SC; Hot Springs, AR; and Branson, MO.

The media value for exposure during this event is anticipated to be immeasurable with several high-level outlets already showing interest in covering the competition, e.g. Pro Team Journal by Strike King, Outdoor Channel Strike King’s Fish Hard, and World Fishing Network.

The visitors’ bureau will be working with the Pan-Am event staff and area hospitality partners, as well as the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to ensure the championship is executed successfully.

About the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau: The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, a program of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the designated destination marketing organization (DMO) for Putnam County and is funded by a portion of the Putnam County lodging tax, a tax paid by visitors’ and collected by local lodging partners such as hotels, bed & breakfasts, etc. Ranking at 17th of Tennessee’s 95 counties, the visitors’ bureau is tasked with inspiring travel and overnight stays in Putnam County. Primary marketing pillars in drive and fly markets include outdoors; fitness/sports; motorcycling; arts/culture; and culinary/crafts. Most recent U.S. Travel Association statistics note visitor spending in Putnam County generated $2.7 million in local tax revenue, providing a tax relief for local residents with a savings of $358.47 per household.  Explore more at

For more information about the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, 

Giving Back to the Outdoors – 22 Brands Will Raise Funds in Fifth Annual “We Keep It Wild” Campaign

Funds raised will help the Conservation Alliance protect wild lands and waters across North America for future generations to enjoy.

  • “We Keep It Wild” program set for needed help from Outdoor Industry
  • EVERYDAY PEOPLE Can Support this program through product purchase and donation 
  • Together, we have helped protect 51 million acres, 3,107 river miles, removed or halted 34 dams, purchased 14 climbing areas & designated 5 marine reserves

A diverse assortment of 22 companies are hosting fundraisers and online promotions during the month of April to benefit The Conservation Alliance in the fifth annual “We Keep It Wild” campaign.

Funds raised will help the Alliance protect wild lands and waters across North America for future generations to enjoy.

“Participation in our We Keep It Wild campaign is another example of how our members come together around a common purpose,” said Josie Norris, program manager at The Conservation Alliance. “We work with these brands throughout the year to protect North America’s wild places through grant-making and advocacy. We are proud to see our members taking additional action to support our mission by raising money for The Conservation Alliance during the month of April.”

Fundraising efforts in April include:

Other confirmed partners include: FootZone of Bend; Bronwen Jewelry; Farm to Feet; Klean Kanteen; Last Exit Goods; Lifestraw; Nau; Nuu-Muu; shār; Superfeet; and Waypoint Outdoor. All donations are additive to the annual membership dues for each brand.

For information and details on all #WeKeepItWild promotions, please visit:

About the Conservation Alliance: The Conservation Alliance is an organization of like-minded businesses whose collective contributions support grassroots environmental organizations and their efforts to protect wild places where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. Alliance funds have played a key role in protecting rivers, trails, wildlands and climbing areas. Membership in the Alliance is open to all companies who care about protecting our most threatened wild places for habitat and outdoor recreation. Since its inception in 1989, The Conservation Alliance has contributed more than $22 million, helped to protect more than 51 million acres of wildlands; protect 3,107 miles of rivers; stop or remove 34 dams; designate five marine reserves; and purchase 14 climbing areas. For complete information on The Conservation Alliance, see

Hobie Revolutionizes an Icon with the All-New 2019 Mirage Outback®

  • Quieter, Faster, More Stable
  • Drop-down Rudder
  • Massive Storage, H-Rail Deluxe
  • Freshwater-Saltwater EXCITING!
The 2019 Hobie Mirage Outback offers many features that make this model even more desirable to have. Photo by Hobie

By Matt Aboussie
OCEANSIDE, CALIFORNIA. (August 27, 2018) – Hobie, the leading manufacturer of pedal kayaks and other premium watercraft, today announce a new evolution of the world’s most popular pedal kayak, the Mirage Outback. The new Outback blends technical innovation and twenty years of consumer feedback to continue the Mirage’s position as the best kayak on the water.

“The Outback is the world’s best-selling kayak for a reason,” says Doug Skidmore, CEO of Hobie. “We’ve kept all of the attributes that made it so popular but continue to push the limits of what the ultimate pedal kayak can offer. With the advancement of the Outback, we’ve created a next-generation kayak that is unmatched in versatility, features, and thoughtful design.”

The new Outback reflects decades of refinement, consumer feedback, and innovation. A sleeker, fine-tuned hull design allows the Outback to cut through the water quietly and more quickly. The wider, 34” standing deck works beautifully as a casting platform for anglers and provides more space and stability. The MirageDrive 180 with Turbo Fins now comes standard in all Outback kayaks and delivers superior speed and thrust, with the ability to quickly shift into full-power reverse. The new drop-down rudder maximizes durability and maneuverability, while the addition of dual steering makes for ambidextrous control.

“The new Outback proves that performance doesn’t come at the price of comfort,” says Keeton Eoff, Director of Global Development at Hobie, referring to the new, spacious Vantage CTW seat with an additional inch and a half of width. “Or that the ultimate fishing kayak that screams “get out there” can’t also be the most versatile recreation kayak on the market.” New storage compartments, cargo hatches, and mesh compartments mean more flexibility to bring gear you might’ve had to leave at home. The Outback also incorporates Hobie’s revolutionary Guardian Transducer Shield, introduced just last month at ICAST 2018.

The new Outback transforms the most trusted pedal kayak on the market into a truly legendary companion on the water. Ready to take on your most ambitious excursions, the new Hobie Outback is here.

The new Outback will be available for purchase through Hobie dealers this fall, at a starting MSRP of $2799. Click the picture above to learn more about the new features.

About Hobie: Since 1950, Hobie has been in the business of shaping a unique lifestyle based around fun, water and quality products. From their headquarters in Oceanside, California, Hobie Cat Company manufactures, distributes and markets an impressive collection of watercraft worldwide. These include an ever-expanding line of recreation and racing sailboats, pedal-driven and paddle sit-on-top recreation and fishing kayaks, inflatable kayaks and fishing boats, plus a complementary array of parts and accessories.

Kayak angling for sturgeon brings new sport to the Northwoods

Barb Carey, founder of WI Women Fish shows off the day’s first sturgeon, caught from a Hobie Pro Angler.

By Mike Pehanich

Sturgeon ancestry dates back to the dinosaurs. But catching these giants from a kayak, is a fresh new sport!

For us outdoor folks, Northwoods travel comes with great expectations. Anticipation grows feverish when the destination is a renowned fishery.

My destination this August was the Rainy River, fabled for its seasonal runs of walleye, cherished as the fertile connecting water to the diverse fisheries of Rainy Lake, its source to the east, and Lake of the Woods, the million-acre drainage to the west.

I arrived at River Bend’s Resort ( the Rainy River, a short boat ride from the river’s mouth at the southeast corner of Lake of the Woods. My imagination waxed rosy with visions of walleye gobbling jigs, cartwheeling smallmouth bass, and lightning-quick attacks from northern pike and musky.

However, my hosts from Hobie Cat, the resort and Lake of the Woods Tourism had added a new wrinkle. They had relegated the game species the area is noted for to back-up roles. First we would challenge lake sturgeon, known more as a fish of mystery and an evolutionary survivor than as a target for sport fishermen.

My hosts had added another twist to the hunt. We would take the ancient brutes on from Hobie kayaks.

A sturgeon relies on the complex set of sensory and feeding organs in its nose including barbels to locate desirable forage and a highly functional snout made to stir up lake bottom and suck in food like a vacuum.

Anatomy of a sturgeon

One look at even an artist’s rendering of a sturgeon is enough to tell you that its family roots reach deep into the geological past. Credit its gift for survival to crude yet efficient characteristics acquired early in its evolution — a streamlined body built on bone and cartilage; a tail strangely fashioned for speed and maneuvering; an oddly tapered snout; an armor-like exoskeleton highlighted in younger specimens by a jutting serrated backbone; a complex set of sensory and feeding organs in its nose including barbels to locate desirable forage; and a highly functional snout made to stir up lake bottom and suck in food like a vacuum.

Sturgeon grow BIG, too, a trait that makes any species more desirable. Paul Johnson, the resort owner who served as both our guide and host, has witnessed catches of sturgeon up to 62 inches in length and 75 pounds. The river’s hook and line record, caught just this past May (2018), measured 75 inches in length and weighed well over 100 pounds.

Our Rainy River sturgeon had a comeback story to tell as well. Before the middle of the 20thcentury, overharvest and pulp mill pollution had endangered sturgeon populations in the region. Common sense initiatives set the stage for a mighty comeback. Environmental regulations led to improved water quality, and enlightened conservation measures and catch-and-release practice ushered in the robust, invigorated population found in the Rainy River and adjacent waters today.

It is a species more than worthy of protection. Sturgeon can live to a ripe old age, with some able to live 150 years or more and reach weights in excess of 200 pounds.


A sturgeon breached 50 yards offshore within minutes of my arrival at River Bend’s Resort, leaving no doubt that this was sturgeon country.

“In peak season in April, it’s boat-to-boat across the river along the Minnesota portion of the Rainy River,” explained Paul Johnson, who with wife Brandi owns River Bend’s and Walleye Inn resorts in Baudette, Minn.

Minnesota opens limited “keep” seasons for sturgeon in spring and summer, but most fishermen are content to release their quarry after doing battle. “A lot of sturgeon fishing’s popularity has to do with the size of the fish,” continued Johnson. “Most anglers aren’t targeting sturgeon to keep them. They just want the opportunity to catch these prehistoric monsters.”

Despite the clear presence of sturgeon in the area, local guides opined that we would find bigger numbers upstream near the town of Birchdale.

Catching sturgeon from Hobie kayaks offered a new challenge to anglers.

We launched our kayaks — a couple of Hobie Pro Angler 14s and i11S inflatable models along with several of the new Hobie Compass kayaks —  above Birchdale. Two sets of rapids made for a scenic and modestly adventurous start. From there, we eased our way toward prime sturgeon haunts, catching smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger and northern pike along the way.

Breaching sturgeon gave our party of eight a fair hint of where to anchor, though we wished we had had sonar units to pinpoint holes and other key feeding areas. We spread out along the river, and settled in for the game of patience known as sturgeon fishing.

Tackle and technique

We geared up with tackle tailored to a big fish brawl – mostly medium heavy to heavy rods and reels spooled with 50- to 65-pound braid.

Terminal tackle consisted of a swivel, short monofilament or fluorocarbon leader of no less than 20-pound test, a #2 to #4 circle hook and adjustable bell sinkers from one to four ounces in weight.

Our bait selection was an unglamorous mix of two to three nightcrawlers and recently thawed emerald shiners, the latter added “extra scent for the sturgeon to find the bait,” in Johnson’s words.

Jody Rae shows off her prize catch, a lake sturgeon, a throwback to prehistory.

The art of anchoring

We learned quickly that anchoring a kayak for sturgeon fishing in a moderately swift stream like the Rainy River is damn near an art form all its own.

“We use a breakaway buoy anchor and an anchor trolley system,” explained Kevin Nakada, the Hobie pro who guided us through the paces of this new skill. “With the system, you can position the kayak to fish comfortably in the current yet detach the kayak quickly from the anchor to fight the fish.”

The buoy anchor consisted of a 3.5-pound anchor and several feet of heavy anchor chain that more than doubled the anchoring weight. Sixty feet of anchor rope ran from the chain to the buoy, a conventional bumper buoy generally used to protect moored boats from banging into a dock. A 7-foot tagline, terminated with a bowline loop, ran from the buoy to the anchor trolley, a pulley system positioned on the starboard sides of our kayaks. The trolley allowed us to position the anchor tagline at the starboard stern of the kayak. Anchored thus, we could fish comfortably downstream without our kayaks struggling sideways in the current.

Fish on!

Barb Carey, founder of WI Women Fish, a Wisconsin-based organization dedicated to teaching women to fish with skill and confidence, earned the first hook-up. Sturgeon on, she freed her kayak from the buoy anchor and took off on a summer sleigh ride.

All of us within earshot rallied to her shout, detaching, too, from our anchor tethers and pedaling the Mirage Drives to close the quarter mile or more distances between us. The sturgeon made sure we had time to witness Barb’s battle and photograph the prehistoric fish.

Sturgeon are bulldogs in battle. They dive deep, pull drag and put serious strain on tackle. The highlight of many sturgeon battles, however, is a surprising aerial display.

Barb’s fish obliged with a writhing perpendicular leap. The sturgeon’s hang time drew cries of excitement from the convergence of kayakers. The fish’s size and profile doubled the excitement.

For anglers like Barb Carey, sturgeon fishing is all about the catch…and safe release!

Even a modestly proportioned sturgeon possesses considerable strength, evidenced in the tugboat rides it took the kayaks upstream and down. Interestingly, the drag of the kayak allows the angler to battle these big fish even with limited line capacity.

Paul slugged it out with another sturgeon an hour later. Then action lagged for the rest of the afternoon.

Evening was closing in when writer Jody Rae’s rod bent into a throbbing arc. Whoops and hollers signaled a special fish, and we all converged on the day’s closing action. When the fish finally tired after a long battle, Kevin Nakada snared it with a tail noose. He carefully led the subdued fish the short distance to shore where Jody and fish posed for photos.

It was a fitting end to a fabulous adventure, a meeting with a fish from prehistory on legendary water during the dawn of a new sport.

Paul and Brandi Johnson, owners of River Bend’s and Walleye Inn ( in Baudette, MN, run guided fishing trips for sturgeon as well as for other Lake of the Woods and Rainy River sport fish (walleye, northern pike, sauger, perch, smallmouth bass and crappie). Hobie kayak rentals are available as well. Contact Lake of the Woods Tourism ( ; 1-800-382-FISH ) for additional information on sport fishing, lodging and area activities.


Don’t spin your wheels! Hobie offers guide to kayak cart selection

Without a set of wheels, a loaded kayak can be tough to transport a long ways to the water.

By Mike Pehanich

Getting a kayak from your vehicle to the water can sometimes be the toughest challenge of the day. Save time and energy for the fish by outfitting your kayak with a set of wheels!

One of the kayak angler’s most important accessories seldom reaches the water.

The kayak cart!

Wheeled kayak carts enable the angler to transport the craft from vehicle to remote launch areas with tackle and accessories already aboard.

Three “Plug-in” kayak carts from Hobie (L to R): 1) Hobie’s Trax 2-30 is an inflatable style ideal for transport over soft ground such as sand or mud; 2) Hobie’s Heavy Duty Cart (225-pound load capacity) is durable and best suited to pavement and coarse gravel or rock terrain; 3) Hobie’s Standard Plug-in cart is economical and offers a 150-pound load capacity.

Tire options enable the kayak owner to match cart selection to land surface. Carriage design will vary, too. Some carts are specifically made for kayaks while others double as transport devices for canoes and other small craft as well.

Some kayak manufacturers design or recommend specific carts to fit scupper holes in their kayaks. This style of cart generally simplifies mounting and transport.

Some carts require straps to secure the kayak during transport.

A cart functions as a fulcrum. If you select a cart designed for variable positioning, you may have to adjust cart location to the size, weight and locations of your load for best results. Positioning the cart near the center of the cumulative kayak mass is a safe and generally effective strategy.

2017 Hobie Bass Open champion Jay Wallen wheels his way to prime launch areas with Plug-in carts, including the Heavy Duty Plug-in Cart stored behind the seat of his Pro Angler in this photo.

Wheeling ‘em in

Airless wheels eliminate a major cart maintenance concern, but inflatable wheels offer advantage over soft terrain.

“The inflatable style wheels are great for soft mediums, especially sand and mud,” notes Kevin Nakada of Hobie. “They spread the kayak’s weight and load over a larger surface area. You may want some bounce to your wheels when you are hauling a loaded kayak over sand dunes.”

Hobie’s Trax 2-30 Plug-in Kayak Cart has pneumatic tires and small diameter rims that prevent pinching and valve damage under heavy loads. The cart has a 242-pound capacity. Tires can be deflated, too, for better performance on soft terrain.

Hobie’s Plug-in kayak carts fit the scupper holes of most of the manufacturer’s craft. They are easy to install and remove and facilitate transport from vehicle to water – even when weighted with a tackle and accessories.

Hobie’s standard cart is economical and efficient when hauling the kayak over a range of ground conditions. But hardcore kayakers concerned with durability and reliability over paved launch areas or hard, coarse gravel or rock terrain might opt for a tougher, more durable set of wheels. Hobie’s Heavy Duty Plug-in Cart fills the bill and offers a 225-pound load capacity, too.

Kevin Nakada uses Plug-in kayak carts to transport kayaks from motor vehicle to water’s edge, where adventures with smallmouth bass like this bronze specimen sometimes begin.

“We also have a stowable fold-up style called the Hobie Fold and Stow Plug-in Cart,” says Nakada. “It’s compact, so you can take it on the water with you. It comes with a storage bag you can fit in your front hatch so you don’t have to walk your wheels all the way back to your vehicle if you’ve had a long haul to reach water.”

The Fold & Stow Plug-in Cart from Hobie, held here by Hobie’s Steve Oxenford, breaks down easily to fit into a carrying bag or the large front cargo hatch featured on a variety of Hobie kayak models.

The Plug-in carts are all designed to fit the scupper holes of Hobie kayaks for quick and easy set-up and transport. Wheels are detachable on all models.

Some specialty manufacturers also make carts to fit kayak scuppers. Make sure any such cart choice adapts to your kayak before making the purchase.

Odds are you’ll love your set of wheels!

“Living on the Ledge” with Jay Wallen at Kentucky and Barkley lakes

Topwater bites early in the morning and on overcast days are “bonus fish” to the versatile Tennessee angler.


  • Kayak bass fishing star Jay Wallen provides ledge fishing tips
  • Texas rig and Carolina rig worms and heavy jigs are key deep water tools
  • Foot-controlled Mirage Drive on Hobie Pro Angler aids boat control
Jay Wallen, who competed in the Hobie Fishing World Championship 7 this spring, is a force to be reckoned with wherever he launches his Hobie Pro Angler 14.

By Mike Pehanich

To WIN summer tournaments often means mining big bass from deep-water “ledges.” Here kayak pro Jay Wallen reveals some of the secrets to “living on the ledge.”

Jay Wallen is a force to be reckoned with in kayak fishing wherever he launches his Pro Angler 14.  But nowhere is the Tennessee angler more feared than at the annual Hobie Bass Open held on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes each June.

His stellar kayak bass tournament record had included two third-place finishes in the Hobie Bass Open on Kentucky Lake already before his HBO victory in 2017. This past June, he notched another Top Ten finish at the event, sponsored by Hobie Cat and the Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau, placing sixth with a 105.25-inch total.

Kentucky and Barkley lakes have tutored him well. Last year’s lessons earned him a $4,000 winner’s purse and a trip to the Hobie Fishing World Championship-7 event, held in April at Lake Vanern in Amal, Sweden.

Wallen is quick to cash in on any hot bite these classic TVA waters might offer, but year-in and year-out, the deep water “ledge” bite on the classic river-bed  and creek-bed structure separates the men from the boys in this tournament competition.

The pattern is familiar on all of the Tennessee River impoundments. Following the spawn – largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass gradually retreat to this prime structure. There they feed on roving schools of shad.

“A lot of guys like to fire up a school with a deep-diving crankbait. A swimbait can go with that, too, because you can control its depth,” says Wallen. “But my favorite ways to catch ledge bass are with a jig or a large worm, Texas-rigged or Carolina-rigged. There’s just something about feeling that bite!”

Texas-rigged and Carolina-rigged worms fished with heavy football jigs are among Jay Wallen’s key baits for ledge bass.

Worms and jigs so rigged give him a shot at bass even when the fish are not in a chasing mood. The beauty is that they will produce during an aggressive bite as well.

At the 2017 Hobie Bass Open championship, Wallen fished a 12-inch Texas-rigged worm behind a ½-ounce bullet sinker on his G. Loomis rods to get his ledge bite going. The bite transitioned to a ¾-ounce football jig with a Zoom Fat Albert soft plastic trailer on Day Two.  For added attraction, he dunked the tail into a garlic flavored Spike-It dip.

“A ½-ounce jig falls more slowly and seems to work better in the 15- to 20-foot range,” says Wallen. “When the sun is up and fish are holding tighter to the bottom, I go to the ¾-ounce jig.”

Kayak fishing has long been associated with shallow water techniques, but anglers like Wallen have brought the kind of deep-water savvy and sophistication to the game generally associated with elite levels of bass boat competition.

Wallen emphasizes the importance of boat control when working the 10- to 30-foot depths common to ledge fishing.  The challenge gets significantly tougher in open water when reservoir wind and current can influence movement of boat and bait. Wallen relies heavily on Hobie’s foot-controlled Mirage Drive for boat control.

“If it weren’t for the Mirage Drive, I wouldn’t be fishing out of a kayak,” he says. “I’ve fished other styles of kayak and drive systems, and I spent too much time controlling my boat and not enough time fishing.”

Back-up plan

Wallen’s strength as a tournament angler stems as much from versatility and ability to adapt, as from mastery of tough techniques.

He looks for secondary ledges along the beds of the Tennessee River tributary creeks when wind and current blow him off favored main lake ledges.

And he is ever ready to cash in on skinny water opportunities in the countless arms and bays of the big impoundments.

“You can’t overlook shallow water opportunities,” he advises, noting that topwater bites early in the morning and on overcast days frequently lead to big fish. “Those are bonus fish. Any fish I can catch shallow in the morning amounts to work I don’t need to do later in the day.”

Topwater bites early in the morning and on overcast days are “bonus fish” to the versatile Tennessee angler.

Hobie Bass Open 2018: Tyson Peterson first to repeat as Hobie Bass Open champion, returns to Hobie World Event

Tyson Peterson became the first repeat winner at the Hobie Bass Open on Kentucky and Barkley lakes.

  • 2015 Hobie Bass Open winner Tyson Peterson takes 2018 crown
  • Peterson and Komyati to fish Hobie World Fishing Championship 8
  • Eric Siddiqi takes back one-day tournament record
  • Kristine Fischer (3rd place) earns first Top Five finish by female angler
Big fish can bring a big smile at tournament time.

By Mike Pehanich

The 2018 Hobie Bass Open on Kentucky Lake, won by Tyson Peterson, featured a plethora of records and firsts.

Gilbertsville, Ky — Tyson Peterson rode out rough water and a heavy charge from the field to post a 121.75-inch total and a wire-to-wire win at the 2018 Hobie Bass Open on Kentucky and Barkley lakes.

“Being the first to win the Hobie Bass Open twice and returning to the Hobie Worlds is amazing,” said Peterson who took home a $5,000 winner’s purse from the event, sponsored by Hobie Cat and the Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau.

(L to R) Kristine Fischer (3rd Place) became the first female kayak angler to earn a Top Five finish at the event. Tyson Peterson hoists his $5,000 winner’s check. Joe Komyati, competing in only his second kayak bass tournament, took home $3,000 and runner-up honors.

The Hobie Bass Open is a Catch/Photo/Release event with scores based on the best cumulative length drawn from three-fish daily limits. This year’s tourney featured other noteworthy performances and highlights:

  • Joe Komyati’s second place finish, coming in only his second kayak bass tournament, earned him a spot on the Hobie World Fishing Championship roster with winner Tyson Peterson.
  • Kristine Fischer became the first female to place in the Top Five. Her 114.75-inch total earned her third place and $2,000.
  • Cincinnati area angler Eric Siddiqi saw his Hobie Bass Open one-day tournament record topped by leader Tyson Peterson on Day One, but he regained that record on Day Two with a 65-inch total.
  • Defending champion Jay Wallen, also from Lexington, KY, earned a sixth place finish with a 105.25-inch total.
  • Perennial contender Ron Champion (fifth place) caught 19- and 18-inch bass casting crankbaits in the final minutes of the tournament to notch a 110-inch total and another Top Five finish.
  • Anthony Shingler’s 11th hour decision to fish the tournament paid off when dropshot and Carolina rigs took him to a 114-5-inch total and fourth place.
  • Cole Kleffman recorded one of the tournament’s largest smallmouth, a 19-incher, to win the youth division.
  • Matt Scotch, from Ft. Worth, Texas, captured the overall Big Fish crown with a 22.5-inch largemouth that edged out Eric Siddiqi’s 22.25-inch fish for top honors.

Joshua Stewart, Drew Russell, Guillermo Gonzalez and Joe Meno filled out the Top 10.

First to repeat at Hobie World Event

Tyson Peterson became the first repeat winner at the Hobie Bass Open on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes.

Peterson, who won the tournament on the same waters in 2015, is the first repeat winner in the event’s five-year history. He and runner-up Joe Komyati (117 inches) qualified for the 2019 Hobie World Fishing Championship as the tournament’s top two finishers.

Eric Siddiqi (left) lost his one-day Hobie Bass Open tournament record to Tyson Peterson on Day One, only to regain the record with a 65-inch Day Two total. Siddiqi, who also had the second largest bass of the tournament, here shakes hands with Big Fish winner Matt Scotch (22.5 inches).

Hobie will announce the site of Hobie World Championship 8 later this year.

Tyson Peterson is looking forward to his return to the event, which pits top anglers from around the world on waters few of them have fished.

“The Hobie Worlds are amazing,” said Peterson. “You pick up so much from other anglers and from fishing new waters and species.”

Does the new champ have a preferred location?

“Australia would be cool,” said Peterson. “But fishing the World’s itself is enough. The destination doesn’t matter.”

Still jacked! How the Chatterbait Jack Hammer led Dwayne Taff to $100K KBF championship payday

After Dwayne Taff celebrated his historic $100,000 win at the 2018 KBF National Championship awards ceremony, he thanked many people, but only one lure — the Chatterbait Jack Hammer.

It took awhile for Dwayne Taff to put his win over 751 competitors on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley during the 2018 Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) National Championship into perspective. Acknowledging his own place in bass tournament history was almost as overwhelming as his win.

“I looked at the payout at the Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell the week before, and after Jordan Lee’s $300,000 winner’s check, the second place award dropped to $50,000,” said Taff following the the March 23-24 tourney. “The KBF National Championship is right up there now with the biggest events in the sport.”

Not only was his winner’s purse of $100,000, courtesy of electric motor maker and title sponsor Torqeedo, almost triple that of any prior kayak victor’s take, but it will rank among the largest first place tournament awards slated for the 2018 bass fishing season, equaling the first place checks to winning pros at Bassmaster Elite and FLW Tour events.




The magnum winner’s purse wasn’t Taff’s only takeaway. He caught his two 5-fish limits over the two-day event on one lure, the Chatterbait Jack Hammer.

“It was a totally new addition to my tackle arsenal. I hit the jackpot with it, too!” he laughed.

Through magazine articles and You Tube videos, Taff had tracked Brett Hite’s FLW and Bassmaster success with the Jack Hammer, a high-end Chatterbait variation that Hite himself had co-designed with Japanese lure designer Morizo Shimizu. The bait, a top-of-the-category product distinguished by its hunting action, premium components and lightning-quick responsiveness, is marketed in the U.S. through a joint effort between Z-Man and EverGreen International of Japan.

Z-Man’s Chatterbait has mushroomed into a family of lures that have expanded the utility and fish-catching capability of the bladed jig concept.  With models like the Chatterbait Freedom, Diezel Chatterbait, Chatterbait Flashback, Chatterbait Mini, Chatterbait Elite and Chatterbait Jack Hammer, Z-Man has Chatterbait varieties available at five price levels and distinguished by variations in components, features, and sizes.

The Chatterbait Jack Hammer, the Cadillac of the line, features premium components including a stainless steel blade for better vibration, a heavy wire Gamakatsu hook, double wire bait keeper, and premium snap. A blade protector design feature, flat bottom and low center of gravity highlight some of its subtle design distinctions.



The hunt is on!

Taff went through a frustrating odyssey trying to find the lure. He finally found the Jack Hammer in a Dick’s store in Houston and bought one.


A la Hite, he added a Yamamoto Zako trailer. He had tracked the soft plastic trailer down in a tackle store in Paducah, Kentucky, just prior to the tournament.

Taff failed to find fish “doing the Kentucky Lake thing” on deep ledges during the unseasonably cold pre-fish days, so he decided to fish the way he knew best. “I didn’t have any confidence in what I was doing so I told my buddies, ’I’m fishing shallow. I’m going Texas!’” Taff recalled. “We rarely fish deeper than 10 feet in Texas.”

He tied on the Chatterbait Jack Hammer.

“I planned to used it as a search bait, thinking I could cover a lot of water with it,” he said. “Unlike other bladed jigs, it doesn’t come up to the surface on you or stop vibrating. You don’t have to jerk it or pop it to get started again in the middle of your retrieve. When the Jack Hammer hits the water it starts pulsing right away, and it doesn’t stop. I don’t care how fast or slow you retrieve it. It outperforms every bait in the category.”

Taff had a five-fish limit by 9:00 A.M. on Day One. He fished a 100-yard stretch of bank only 1- to 2-feet deep with an adjacent ditch 4- to 6-feet deep.

“In the early morning, the bass were on the ledge, tight to the bank,” he explained. “But they dropped into the ditch when the sun came up.”

Nearly all his fish came from the relatively sparse hard cover in the area, primarily fallen trees and stick-ups.

He left the area early on Day One, knowing he was in contention for the big prize. He hoped that he had not spooked all the bass there and that the area would replenish itself with new fish as well.

He was right.

But Day Two was not without suspense.

Taff hung his lone Jack Hammer on his very first cast!

“I had already caught two fish off that tree, and I am thinking ‘I am going to hit that tree just to the left…and I am going to catch a fish,’” he recalled. “It’s my first cast in the dark, and I throw it right in the middle of the tree. I hung my Chatterbait (Jack Hammer) on my first cast! I am thinking that I screwed it up, scared all the fish. I jerk it again, trying to get it out of the tree…Right then, the line moves off to the left, and I set the hook. The fish had just come in and grabbed it out of the tree! That’s how I started my morning.”

The fish measured 22.5 inches, the largest fish reported that hour and among the largest caught in the entire tournament.

“She was full of eggs, probably weighed 6 or 7 pounds,” he said, basking in the recollection.

He moved 20 feet down the bank and landed another bass, a 19-3/4-incher.  Minutes later, he added a 15-3/4-inch fish to his tally.

Only a half hour into Day Two, he had three quality keepers to his credit.


Tackle talk

Taff emphasized the importance of the role tackle match-ups played in his $100,000 payday. The combination consisted of a strong medium power rod from the McCain kayak series, an Abu Garcia Revo reel with 5:1 gear ratio, and 12-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon line.

“I used mostly a straight retrieve. The 5:1 gear ratio enabled me to keep the retrieve slow in that 51-degree water,” assessed Taff. “The rod enabled me to get a good hookset. When I felt the bait stop chattering, I knew a fish had hit and was coming toward me. With that McCain rod, I could still get a good hookset.”

The Jack Hammer he used was the BHite Delight; the trailer color was green pumpkin.


A game of quarter inches

But the game changed on Day Two after Taff’s 30-minute opening gambit. The wind changed direction, and the morning’s mist turned to steady rain.

“I couldn’t get Numbers Four and Five to bite over the next few hours,” recalled Taff. “So I left the area for another bank with a few stick-ups. There I got a 12- and a 12-3/4 inch fish. But I knew I probably wouldn’t remain at the top with those fish, so I just kept grinding.”

Unable to upgrade his catch, he began to paddle back to the bank where he had started the day’s fishing. Rounding a point, he ran into one of his angling buddies who told him the camera crew was looking for him.

He cringed at the added pressure of fishing in front of the camera.


“I considered going the other way, but I was heading back to my Honey Hole, my Money Hole!” he said.

He worked up and down that bank an estimated 30 times with the eyes of camera and onlookers upon him. At one point, the cameraman lamented that he had a lot of fish on film but had yet to capture a hookset on camera.

“Five minutes later the Jack Hammer took a 14-inch fish,” Taff recalled. “The camera man asked me how critical I thought that 14-incher was. I said, ‘That could be the difference in winning $100,000. I just upgraded by two inches.’”

And it was! Taff topped his closest competitor, Joshua Stewart, by 1-3/4 inches with a 10-fish total of 173.5 inches.

“That 14-incher wasn’t the most impressive fish on film,” said Taff, sporting a $100,000 grin. “But he WAS the money fish!”

Jay Wallen Wins Hobie Bass Open on Kentucky Lake

  • Kentucky Lake, Kentucky
  • Home of Big Bass

The third time was the charm for Jay Wallen of Lexington, Kentucky. After finishing third the past two years, Wallen has battled through to take the Hobie Bass Open win. This was year four of the tournament that took place on Kentucky Lake in Marshall County, Kentucky, June 10-11, 2017.
“I’m so happy I pulled it off so I can go to the Hobie Worlds 7,” commented Jay. “That’s what this whole thing is about. I just couldn’t be happier.”
Wallen went into the final day of the two-day “CPR” (Catch-Photograph-Release) kayak fishing tournament with a very small, one-inch lead. A crowd of anglers was chasing close behind and he felt the pressure. Changing up from day one, he hunted his fish on a ledge farther north, closer to the dam where he’d finished the first day on a furious flurry. However, on the final day the bite proved to be a grinder. He averaged one fish every two hours, but they were good ones.
Wallen’s three-fish daily limit was anchored by a 20-inch largemouth that he said he probably should not have caught. The jig pulled right at the boat, but he got the net under the fish before it hit the water.
“That’s when I knew I had a chance. I didn’t think I had it won, but I had a chance,” he said.
Wallen fished clean, converting all his bites and it proved essential. With just 30 minutes of fishing time left, he culled an 18-incher, giving him a daily total of 56.75 inches. It was just enough. His two-day total of 115.5 inches narrowly beat his closest challenger.
“The biggest thing about this tournament is you compete against your peers and some of the best kayak anglers out there,” Wallen went on to say. “That’s what makes it special. You do this in front of all your peers and a lot of them are happy for you. We’re all for the most part, friends.”
The win earned Wallen a check for $4,000, but it was the trip to the Hobie Fishing World Championship 7 that has him most excited. The World’s destination is expected to be announced in July. Wallen is ready, wherever it winds up. “You could put it on the moon for all I care! I’m ready to go, to represent team USA,” he said.
Joshua Stewart of Waverly, Tennessee nearly matched Wallen inch-for-inch, but ultimately finished second with a total of 114.25 inches. He fished a jig in shallow water in the New Johnsonville area of Kentucky Lake. Stewart earned $2,500 and an invitation to the Hobie Fishing Worlds 7. “This is the biggest one, the most meaningful finish of my kayak fishing career,” he said.
Drew Russell of Louisville, Kentucky, rounded out the top three. He earned $1,700. “I was shooting for a top ten finish, so I’m thrilled with third. I’ll be back. We’ll get it next year,” he said of just missing the Hobie Worlds. Russell fished worms and jigs on ledges and points.
The Hobie Bass Open paid out to 12th place. There is always a 100% pay out of angler entry fees in this competition. 115 anglers fished the adult division.
The youth division was won by Jaxton Orr, who compiled an impressive two-day total of 102.25 inches. He was followed by Will Stumbo (95.5 inches) and Cole Kleffman (83.75 inches)
Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau and Hobie Worldwide sponsored the 1st place winner to attend the Hobie Worlds. Additional sponsors included lodging host Kentucky Lake Dam Village State Resort Park, the host city of Calvert, Hobie Polarized, Lowrance, YakAttack, Bassin’ Magazine, RAM Mounts, St. Croix, Daiwa, Power-Pole, Mustad and Gerber.
This year there are two new US and Canadian qualifying events for Hobie Fishing World Championship 7: the Shasta Bass Kayak Classic and the 2nd Annual IKE Foundation Celebrity Pro Am Tournament Kayak Division hosted by Hobie’s own Mike “Ike” Iaconelli. Ike’s event will be special. It will be a star-studded occasion contested on the non-tidal sections of the Delaware River and includes dinner on the illustrious battleship, USS New Jersey.
The full Hobie Fishing Worlds “7” North American qualifying event schedule is as follows:
1) The Shasta Bass Kayak Classic, March 25-26 – 1 qualifying spot
2) The Jamaica Bay Kayak Fishing Classic, May 18-21 – 1 qualifying spot
3) The Hobie Bass Open, June 9-11 – 2 qualifying spots
4) The Border City Classic, June 24-25 – 2 qualifying spots
5) The 2nd Annual IKE Foundation Celebrity Pro Am Tournament Kayak Division, July 7-8 – 1 qualifying spot
Since 1950, Hobie has been in the business of shaping a unique lifestyle based around fun, water, and innovative quality products. From their worldwide headquarters in Oceanside, California, Hobie Cat Company manufactures, distributes, and markets an impressive collection of eco-sensitive watercraft, with subsidiaries; Hobie Cat Australasia, in Huskisson, NSW, Australia and Hobie Cat Europe, in Toulon, France and independent distributors; Hobie Kayak Europe and Hobie Cat Brasil. These products include an ever-expanding line of recreation and racing sailboats, pedal-driven and paddle sit-on-top recreation and fishing kayaks, inflatable kayaks, fishing boats, surfboards, stand-up paddleboards and the new Hobie Mirage Eclipse™ Standup pedalboards, plus a complementary array of parts and accessories.
For more info: Contact Ingrid Niehaus, (949) 499-2225,

Kayakety Yak – Maneuvering, Fishing, Funning & Rigging, (Part 2 of 2)

  • Certain optional kayak gear is handy and necessary.
  • Customize your fishing kayak for comfort and function.
Randy Boeller drove all the way from Houston, Texas, to land this chunky smallmouth on the upper Maries River. Jim Low Photo

By Jim Low

With a new Kayak, there are quite a few features to look for, understand and think about.  Here are some of the features that are important to me:


Before writing a check, take time to sit in several kayaks to see if you can stand to sit in it for hours.  Try to find a dealer that will allow you to test “drive” kayak before purchase.  Ideally, a seat should have an adjustable, padded back rest.  The seat should also be padded with a material that allows water to drain away from your kiester.

Equally important are adjustable foot rests.  Pushing on these anchors you in your seat, providing a solid paddling platform.  They should be adjustable, not only for different leg lengths, but to allow you to change your leg position to avoid stiffness.  The surfaces of these pedal-like accessories should have a non-slip surface.


Sometimes these are built into the kayak’s hull and hold rods upright.  This works fine, as long as you don’t encounter any overhead obstructions.  Much better are rod holders with swiveling mounts that fold parallel with the deck.  Having multiple rod holders allow you to switch baits without re-rigging.


Most kayaks have fore and aft cargo compartments, but these are hard to reach on the water.  Small compartments within reach of the seat are more practical.


You don’t need much of an anchor for kayak fishing, but they do come in handy when you want to hold your position against current or wind.  Anchors need ropes, and having loose rope around your feet is inconvenient, not to mention dangerous.  Anchor trolleys keep your anchor rope organized with cleats and allow you to instantly tie off anchor rope at the desired length and release it just as quickly.  A small, foldable anchor will fit easily under or beside your seat, out of the way but available when needed.


You laugh, but nothing is worse than cracking open a drink only to have it tip over in your lap moments later.  Well, okay, lots of things are worse, but a spilled drink is bad enough.  When not holding drinks, cup holders are useful for holding snacks, phones, lures, pliers and a dozen other things.


These really are the mothers of all accessories.  Factory-installed accessory mounting systems permit you to customize your kayak in ways limited only by your imagination.  They accept universal mounting plates can be drilled to accept anything you want.  This is an easy way to keep cell phones, tablets, GPS units and other electronic devices handy.  Naturally, if you are short on imagination, manufacturers have lots of ideas, including tackle bins, live wells, rod holders, fish finders and, yes, cup holders.


Paddling into the wind can be a challenge when fishing on lakes or large streams.  A rudder or tracking skeg keeps you on track without constant correction.  This is especially handy for trolling.


Speaking of trolling, trolling motors made specifically for canoes and kayaks are available.  Hobie offers kayaks equipped with their patented MirageDrive, the original kayak peddle-drive system.  These items aren’t cheap…unless you compare their prices to the cost of a bass boat.

One often-neglected accessory is a top-quality paddle.  A cheap paddle will wear you out if it doesn’t wear out first.  Don’t balk at spending a couple hundred dollars on an ergonomically friendly paddle that keep you, your wrists and shoulders out of the orthopedic surgeon’s office for years.

Fishing kayaks have become so popular that organizations dedicated to them are springing up around the country.  Missouri has two that I know of: Missouri Kayak Fishing Association and the Show Me Kayak Fishing.  You might consider hooking up with these folks for help learning the ropes of kayak angling.  Once you go ‘yak, you’ll never look back!


Kayakety Yak – Maneuvering, Fishing, Funning & Rigging, (Part 1 of 2)

  • These craft are made to order for fishing small and remote waters.
  • You will never go back to aluminum canoes once you’ve fished from a kayak.
  • You can customize a fishing kayak for anything.
The author brought this scrappy largemouth to hand on the upper Gasconade River.

By Jim Low

Ask anyone who has fished an Ozark stream (or anywhere) in a kayak, and you are likely to hear a paean on the many advantages of these craft.  My “aha moment” came within five minutes of climbing into a 10-foot Old Towne model. 

A slightly overlong cast landed my Rebel Craw in a wad of flotsam and I swore like a sailor, knowing I’d have to paddle like a demon against a stiff current to retrieve the $6 crankbait.  Resting my rod in the notches provided for that purpose, I grabbed the double paddle and instantly became aware of the advantages of kayak fishing.  Instead of the heavy labor needed to propel a bulky aluminum canoe upstream, a few strokes had me within reach of my lure.  Then, instead of struggling to turn a 16-foot behemoth around in tight quarters, I executed a neat 180-degree turn and was fishing again.

In the South, when food is so good you can’t believe it, they say it will make you want to slap your mama.  At that moment on Bryant Creek, I wanted to slap my Grumman.  Don’t get me wrong, canoes have their place. 

There’s no beating the cargo capacity and stability of an 18-foot touring canoe on a camping trip.  Lightweight Kevlar models in a variety of sizes and styles make canoes much more versatile than they were 30 years ago.  But for fishing skinny water or remote spots, nothing beats a kayak.  You can throw three or four of them in the bed of a pickup truck and carry them in to places other anglers can only dream of reaching.

I had no idea how important portability was until I found myself near the end of a day-long float on the upper Maries River a few years ago. 

My fishing buddy has bad hips and knees and could barely get in and out of his borrowed kayak with assistance.  We were tired and ready for a hot meal with adult beverages, when the river unexpectedly ended.  A flood had deposited several thousand cubic yards of gravel and hundreds of trees in what once was the main channel.  What was left was a quarter mile of small rivulets separated by gravel bars and choked with willow thickets. 

Randy got himself and our fishing rods to the end of the blockage, but it fell to me to drag our kayaks through the hellish mess.  I don’t know what we would have done if we had been in a canoe.

Greg Stoner of Camdenton landed two nice walleyes while fishing from his tricked-out Hobie kayak on the Niangua River.

Many kayaks are not particularly well-suited to fishing.  Dagger-like racing models are not stable enough, and too long to be maneuverable.  Short, inexpensive kayaks are similarly tippy, and there’s no place to put your fishing rod and other gear.  To enjoy kayak fishing fully, you need one fitted out specifically for that purpose.  Prices for fishing kayaks range from a few hundred dollars for models with basic features and to thousands of dollars for boats that practically paddle themselves.  There are quite a few features to look for, understand and think about. 

Check the many features out in Part 2 of 2, coming up next week. 

IFA Redfish Tour – $30,000 Top Prize, in Charlotte County, Florida

The Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) opened the 2017 Redfish powerboat competition year in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, Florida, with 89 angler teams looking for the top prize. Steven Phillips cashes in on the $500 big fish prize with his 7.78 pound Redfish. Forrest Fisher Photo

• Brandon Buckner & Mark Sepe Win $30,000 Top Prize
• Micro-Power Pole was Key for Heavy Wind
• Schooled Fish: In Sandbar/Grassbed Potholes
• Scented Soft-Plastics and Topwater Baits Most Effective

By Forrest Fisher
The weather provided an extra challenge for competitive Redfish anglers as the 2017 Inshore Fish Association kicked off the Redfish powerboat tournament season on Saturday, March 4, 2017, in the surprisingly clear Gulf of Mexico waters near Punta Gorda, Florida.

The surprise factor for the day was the screaming northeast wind at 25 to 40 mph, unusual for this part of Florida, as it caused thunderous waves to crash the famed “West Wall” of Charlotte Harbor and farther south to Pine Island Sound. The breezy airstream forced the hardy redfish anglers to head for shelter and cover, but they had to run the surf to get there. Many took the time to battle the wave crests and power their rigs from Laishley Park in Punta Gorda to quieter Charlotte County waters near the small island paradise and discreet shoreline structure of Turtle Bay and Gasparilla Sound, near Placida.

Brandon Buckner and Mark Sepe took home the big prize with their two top fish tipping the scales at a whopping 14.57 pounds on the troublesome weather day when, unlike practice day, many anglers had trouble finding fish.

The top prize for the winners was impressive, cashing in their fish bag for a brand new RB190 Ranger boat, Mercury 4-Stroke motor, Minn Kota Trolling motor, Hummingbird Helix Sonar, cash and more, for a total purse of $29,530. The top five places also took home a $50 gift certificate from Boca Bearing. Because Buckner and Sepe had a boat equipped with a Power Pole and they won the tournament, they also won an additional $400 check from Power Pole. Both said they would not have been able to catch a fish on this day without it.

Brandon Buckner and Mark Sepe with their two top fish tipping the scales at a whopping 14.57 pounds, took home the top prize that included a brand new Ranger boat package and cash worth nearly $30,000. Forrest Fisher Photo

Buckner and Sepe methodically fished potholes they found on sandy bars and grass flats, using a Micro Power Pole to assure their boat-holding position, attributing a large part of their win to the efficiency of their Power Pole. Buckner said, “My partner was definitely the vacuum cleaner on the front of the boat, I was just the key net man. We used soft plastics and jig heads, casting and retrieving through the potholes and wind.” Mark Sepe added, “We especially want to thank Power Pole, Yamaha, Costa Del Mar and Bossman Boats.”

The Budweiser team of Chris Slattery and Dave Hutchinson took home 2nd Place with 14.23 pounds for a $4755 cash prize, catching nine Redfish through the day on gold color lures. They explained that several boats fished near them through the day, but that they had dry shore on one side and were able to control their fish zone very well that way.

The competitive field was comprised of 89 power boat teams vying for top honors. The weigh-in was exciting with a well-supported local crowd cheering on the hearty anglers, some with sore backs, as they came to the scales. Some fishermen travelled to compete from as far away as Houston, Texas.

Third place went to Matt Tramontana and T.R. Finney with 14.17 pounds good for $2141 cash prize, fourth place to Karl Butigan and Steven Phillips with 13.99 pounds, good for $2141 – and Phillips landed an extra $500 for the biggest redfish of the day; fifth place went to Ryan Rickard and Dustin Tillet with 13.66 pounds good for $2188 that included a payout from the Angler Advantage prize pool.

In all, some $49,134.24 was paid out to the top 17 teams in merchandise and prizes for this Punta Gorda event.

Redfish Tournament Weigh-in
All the redfish entered were checked for legal size prior to weigh-in, with all of the fish maintained alive and returned to the harbor waters to fight another day. Forrest Fisher Photo

Colorful tournament director, Eric Shelby, had the crowd ooh-ing, ah-ing and cheering, holding their attention with details as he introduced each angler team that entered the weigh station. Anglers placed their fish in a special live-fish bag, then into a life-sustaining aerator tank before they went to the length verification station and the official on-stage weighmaster scale. Many of the anglers shared an occasional humble fishing secret with local fishermen and onlookers.

All the fish entered were released back to the Peace River waters of Charlotte Harbor above the Route 41 bridges to live another day. Conservation is alive and well with IFA competitors and it is only proper in this case here, as Punta Gorda leads the state in developing juvenile fisheries habitat with their highly successful Reef Ball Project for public piers, private docks and open water. Proof that the county, the state and the fishermen are conservation-minded and work together to accomplish their goals in Punta Gorda and it’s working.
Fishing techniques and tactics were simple for many of the anglers. Gear was simple too, but the gear was top of the line that typically included 7-foot long fast-tip rods, open-face ball-bearing spinning reels, 12-20 pound test braided main line, fluorocarbon leaders of 10-20 pound test and strong knots.

Kyle Potts and Shane Erhardt Team Tito's
Team Tito powered by expert anglers, Kyle Potts and Shane Erhardt, who received family weigh-in support here, made a 20-mile one-way run to catch 12.90 pounds in waters protected from the nasty wind for a 9th place finish.. Forrest Fisher Photo

Kyle Potts and Shane Earhart, among top fish-catchers for the day, shared fishing day details that were common for many other anglers, as well. Potts says, “We made about a 20-mile run from port in the morning, first fishing the East Wall side before crossing the harbor, the harbor was pretty rough. We fished sandy and grass-bottom potholes in one to three feet of water.” When asked about their fishing gear, Potts added, “We like our Dan James custom rods with Shimano Stradic CI-4/4000FA reels and 10-pound test braid to throw Berkley Gulp 6-inch jerk baits.”

Brandon Spears Eddie Parrot
Brandon Spears and Eddie Parrot caught a large mixed bag of fish that included redfish, speckled trout and snook using Berkley Gulp jerkbaits with lightweight jigheads. Forrest Fisher Photo.

Eddie Parrot and Brandon Spears fished about 20 miles to the north and west, near Placida, weighing in 12.14 pounds for 13th place.  Parrot shared, “We used our Ranger 16-foot Phantom, Berkley Gulp plastics and top-water lures, 12-pound braided line with short one-foot fluorocarbon leaders of 20-pound test to catch fish.  We use a Bimini Twist for attaching the braid to the fluorocarbon, then a Palomar knot to attach the lure.  We caught a nice mixed bag of 6 redfish, 8 speckled trout and a nice snook.  One really important thing here, without our Power Pole, the day would have been lost in this wind.”  Spears added, “The 3-4 inch Berkley soft plastics with 1/8 ounce jig heads were effective, though we also used weighted hooks for some of the soft baits and had a nice day out there.”
Eric Shelby said, “The winning teams did well to score like they did.  This was a tough day for fishing.  During practice day, these guys caught hundreds and hundreds of fish, today the strong northeast winds have moved the water far offshore and has made getting into the backwaters a lot tougher.  Most of the guys ran north toward Gasparilla with the wind.  The boats are launched sequentially in the morning to avoid accidents and the anglers have a 15 minute grace period when they return before penalties are incurred.  It was nice to see the local crowd here to support the event.”

For more in the Inshore Fishing Association (IFA), visit:

IFA Redfish Tours Open Season at Punta Gorda, Florida

The clear and warmer than usual waters off the southwest Florida coast at Laishley Park in Punta Gorda, will be the site this weekend where Redfish Anglers will gather to compete on March 3 (boats) and 4 (kayaks). Photo Credit: Hobie Fishing

•  IFA 2017 Florida West Division events set for March 4-5
•  Fastest-Growing Inshore Fishing Tournament Series
•  Powerboats March 4, Kayaks March 5

By STOadmin

The Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) and inshore anglers from across Florida and surrounding regions will converge at Punta Gorda, Florida, March 4-5, for the season-opening events for the 2017 IFA Redfish Tour Presented by Cabela’s and IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing.

The IFA Redfish Tour Presented by Cabela’s will begin its activities on Friday, March 3, with tournament registration from 5-7 p.m. at Laishley Park (120 Laishley Ct., Punta Gorda, FL 33950), followed by the captain’s meeting.  Anglers will launch from the marina at safe light on Saturday, March 4.  Check-in times will be assigned at Friday’s captain’s meeting with anglers returning to the marina for the weigh-in, which is set to begin at 3 p.m.

Competitors in the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing will have registration from 6-7 p.m. with captains meeting to follow on Saturday, March 4, at Laishley Park. Anglers will launch Sunday, March 5, from the location of their choice and return to the marina for the weigh-in. Check in times will be announced at Saturday’s captain’s meeting.

Looking for a Fishy Kayak?

New kayaks can be peddled like a bicycle or paddled like a canoe, but one factor to look for is weight capacity and seat comfort. Forrest Fisher Photo

  • How to Choose, Many Makers
  • Things to Consider, Tackle Storage
  • Peddle or Paddle?  Sit or Stand?
New kayaks can be peddled like a bicycle or paddled like a canoe, but one factor to look for is weight capacity and seat comfort. Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher

There is a new wave of fishing access, waterway fun and outdoor adventure that is sweeping our young-minded nation.  The portability and capability of new kayak products are more popular and in greater demand every day.  I searched out many of the kayak lines out there and concluded that when safety and durability are a function of your interest – big water (ocean) or small water (ponds), the Hobie Company has a product that everyone should know more about before purchasing any other kayak product.

There’s never been a better time to take up kayak fishing.  Whatever your game – freshwater bass or trout, saltwater redfish on the flats, or hard-pulling, aggressive fish, like kingfish and yellowtail in the big water offshore – there’s a Hobie kayak built for the job.

Every Hobie kayak comes ready to fish from the factory, but some are more ‘fishy’ than others. The current fleet offers deck plans with space to mount rod holders and electronics, hatches big enough to stash extra tackle, and spacious above-deck cargo areas in the stern, the ideal place for an H-Crate storage system or Hobie Livewell.

The 13- to 16-foot kayak models are at home on the ocean or a large lake, where the length will help glide you safely over swells and tough choppy conditions. Hobie Photo

There are compact boats, deliberately built short. Others are long and slender, or somewhere in between. Hobie’s flagships feature the MirageDrive, an elegantly engineered and time-tested pedal drive that offers numerous advantages.  Hobie also has kayaks to paddle the old-fashioned way.  They also have portable inflatable kayaks and the family-oriented Mirage Islands and trimarans with sails that work together with the MirageDrive.

Variety is good.  There is no one boat that fits everyone or is perfect for each fishery.  Every kayak is a compromise.  The right one for you depends chiefly on two things: your body size and shape and the adventure you plan to put that kayak craft through on the water.

One thing is obvious.  Bigger people need bigger kayaks.  Whether you’re tall or a bit husky, make sure to sit in the cockpit of any kayak you’re considering.  With Hobie, try out the different Vantage seats.  All are comfortable with wide-ranging adjustability.  The ST and XT seats that outfit the Pro Angler series are larger and taller, serious fishermen like these.

Don’t forget to check the capacity of the kayak.  Take your weight, estimate your gear load and add in a few pounds for the fish you’ll catch.  It’ll help you decide whether you need a 400-pound capacity kayak like the Hobie Mirage Outback or a larger 600-pound capacity Mirage Pro Angler 14.  The latter are great for big men who think like boys (like me).

A smaller person will fit in just about any kayak.  A big boat can still be a mismatch and can be too much of a good thing.

Check out the H-Crate storage system from Hobie with the above-board seating on top of this model kayak. The angler is higher for improved visibility when searching out sand bars, shoals and bedding fish. Hobie Photo

The sturdier kayak models are longer, in the 13-16 foot range, and with these, you can feel safe and comfortable on the ocean or a large lake, where the length will help glide you safely over swells and tough choppy conditions.  The Mirage Revolution 16 is one such unit that will fill the bill for safety in tough seas.  The same boat will have a harder time of handling the sharp turns of a narrow, twisting river backwater.  So it’s a good idea to match your kayak to the intended use.

In general, shorter kayaks such as the Hobie Mirage Sport are easier to turn and pivot, but aren’t as efficient for covering long distances.  Longer boats such as the Mirage Revolution 13 hold a straighter course.  Wider boats in the Pro Angler Line feel stable and support more weight, whereas narrower boats glide with less effort.   Here, you need to decide which is best for your intended use.

Every one of the Hobie roto-molded polyethylene models comes with molded-in rod holders.  They are ready to fish straight from the factory, but if you’re a serious angler you’ll love the additional features offered in the Mirage Outback and the Pro Angler series.  There are more places to mount accessories such as rod holders and camera mounts.  The Pro Anglers add horizontal rod holders and long lengths of H-Rail for mounting even more gear.

Kayak fishing has allowed growth of anglers that are bonding to the outdoors with friends and neighbors, fishing in local and regional contests, and enjoying better quality time with their own families. Hobie Photo

If storage space or transportation is an issue, take a look at the Hobie inflatable series.  They feature rugged, PVC-vinyl construction and offer performance that rivals more rigid models.  Set up takes about10-minutes.  Each one comes with an Easy-Load Rolling Travel Bag.  Some are even light enough to bring along as checked airline baggage.

There’s a lot to consider, so put in some research before buying your next kayak,but if you want safety and reliability, my choice would be with a Hobie.  Save your pennies and put them good use for your safe and fun future on the water in your kayak.

To see a Hobie, look for a dealer near you through their on-line Dealer Finder, then drop by any other local kayak hop to take a closer look at their kayaks.  Many offer demos.  Stop by an annual fishing or outdoor show where you’re likely to see kayaks rigged for fishing and can chat with kayak fishing guides for expert advice.  If you want to feel a lot younger, do what I do and get up early to visit a kayak fishing competition – there are numerous events all around the country now.

If you choose your new kayak with some foresight, it will open a thrilling new world of fishing adventure.  Enjoy!

New Hobie Kayak’s: No Paddles, but Have Forward and Reverse!

-Mechanism is Lightweight, Innovative

-Paddling with Legs: Good for Healthy Body Circulation

-Perfect for the Weekend Fisherman or Recreational Boater


By Forrest Fisher

My first introduction to Hobie Kayak’s was five years ago and resulted in just one simple word of expression – that word was “WOW!”  In our first use, my granddaughter and I could reach more than 10 miles per hour in a kayak!  That was without trying very hard, we were both thrilled and feeling “strong.”

Of course, with a little effort and a little wax, I think a much higher speed can be attained, but kayak paddling is not about speed.  It is more about joining nature on the waterways, communicating with fishable water where no other types of boats might be able to go, it is about developing unimaginable capacity understanding nature, about exploring, finding new adventure and all the while, keeping safe on board a very durable watercraft.  Safe, even when lakes and rivers and seas can turn voraciously mean!

The paddling with your legs idea is distinctly innovative.  I like the whole idea because it is easier than paddling with a hand-held paddle.  The Hobie Kayak units have steering too.  Since I’m a fisherman, this allows me to waste less time getting there and it also means getting there with more energy than other kayakers in other brand kayak craft.  Of course, the Hobie Kayaks are still provided with a conventional paddle too, so if you are a workout buff, you can have the best of both worlds.

The one issue I had when I initially propelled a Hobie was position control.  If I was in a southern creek or river, a big fish might pull me under an overhanging tree or two – a place where I did not want to go.

Me and cottonmouth friends have distinctly different viewpoints on symbiotic embrace.  With a reverse gear now, we can back out under MirageDrive reverse propulsion using feet for power and hands on the rod and net for landing the fish without any potential greeting from an overhanging contradiction to my simple fun of catching fish.for-sto-10182016-new-products-picture-2of3

The Hobie bio-engineered MirageDrive propulsion system for kayaks was revolutionary when first introduced in 1997
and the company has been evolving improvements ever since.  Now comes the biggest evolution – so far, the patent-pending Hobie MirageDrive 180 forward-reverse propulsion system that will be integrated into all 2017 model year Mirage kayaks.  All Hobie users are excited about this.

Weighing in at under eight pounds, the MirageDrive 180 produces full power in both directions and offers unprecedented maneuverability. The user can pull one of two shift cables to direct propulsion 180 degrees almost instantly from forward to reverse and back again.

Imagine the possibilities: backing fish out of cover; safely fishing closer to obstructions; or fishing downstream while holding in current. Hands-free propulsion in any direction means better control to cast, present baits and to concentrate on landing bigger fish. And then pictures can be snapped or cold beverage enjoyed on the way back in without ever stopping.

There are two shifters, one marked in green for forward and a longer one in red for reverse, making them easy to identify.  Pulling the appropriate cable pivots both MirageDrive fins 180 degrees, reversing the direction of the power output.

Although the forward-reverse capability is the most noticeable improvement to this new generation of the time-tested MirageDrive, it’s not the only significant advancement.  The new fins are even more durable, with high strength nylon on the leading and trailing edges.  Adjusting fin resistance has also been improved via an easy-access knob.  The fin shape, altered to allow the fins to rotate from forward to reverse, provides the same efficient power as past models of ST Fins and ST Turbo fins respectively.

Can the MirageDrive 180 go shallow? Absolutely. Use partial pedal strokes to “flutter” the fins or push one crank arm forward so that both fins automatically fold up flat against the bottom of the hull.  This same wing-like action excels for dodging obstacles, shedding weeds and gliding through the water with minimal resistance. It also facilitates landing on the beach or at the boat ramp.  The MirageDrive 180 installs in seconds thanks to the Click and Go Mounting System, which also makes removing a snap.

The MirageDrive 180’s cranks adjust to comfortably fit the user’s height, from tall to child-size. Cleaning and maintenance is simple.  A quick rinse at the end of the day and an occasional spray with Hobie Multi-Lube is all it takes.

I recently fished with Hobie Fishing Product Manager, Morgan Promnitz, and can add that this hard worker is more than just a factory fixture, he knows how to catch big fish wherever he goes, and he goes to many places educating users and store owners, insuring the outreach efforts of Hobie are best utilized around the world.

Promnitz took the MirageDrive 180 to the remotely located, an area of dangerous ocean currents and demanding kayak skills near Cedros Island in Baja, Mexico.  He managed a crew that performed intensive testing on the new drive.  “The shifters really shine. I found myself using them constantly,” Promnitz says.

Promnitz fished nose-in to a breakwall for powerful grouper.  Every time he hooked up, he’d throw the MirageDrive 180 into reverse and back the fish out of the rocks.  He also used the shifters while taking photos of friends connected with big fish, to get just close enough, backing away if the fish ran.  Another functional new use for anglers was trolling in reverse with live bait in front of him, where he could watch every potential deflection of his rod tip.

“A bonito school came up chasing the live mackerel I had on for bait. I subtly guided it towards them to entice a bite. It was cool watching the action go down,” he says.

The uses of the shifters are endless.  The two shift cables are composed of braided Spectra line connected to high strength, snag-free nylon handles. They tuck into a Bungee® retainer when not needed.

The MirageDrive 180 will be standard with all 2017 model year Mirage kayaks, including the legendary Outback and award-winning Pro Anglers. 2017 model year kayaks are slated to begin shipping in October 2016.

The MirageDrive 180 is retrofitable to existing MirageDrive kayaks and is expected to be available as a stand-alone accessory by mid-year 2017.  The Hobie’s are lightweight, functional, safe, durable, handsome, and are backed up by a terrific warranty.  These are among just a few reasons why I like ‘em.


Hobie Bass Open at Kentucky Lake Dam Village

Tournament bass anglers no longer need to spend $80,000 for a hi-test fishing rig with the technological advent of sophisticated, lightweight material that has allowed foot-powered fishing boats that fit into the back of your truck or on top of your compact car, to create a brand new world of affordable fishing for bug bucks or simple fun – tournaments too. Photo by Christina Weber

June 3-5, 2016 – Epic Bass Fishing Event

If you are a kayak angler and you fish for big bass, you will want to be sure to check out the third annual Hobie Bass Open.  Presented by Marshall County Kentucky Tourism and Kentucky Dam Village, the classic event will take place at Kentucky Dam Village State Park, June 3-5, 2016.

The Hobie Bass Open will be one of a series of qualifying events in the United States and Canada for the 2016 Hobie Fishing World VI Tournament.  The winner will not only take home the crown, cash and prizes, but will also be invited to join Team USA at the World’s next fall, all expenses paid!

Anglers are invited to register for the event by logging onto  There is an adult division and a youth division.

The event is conservation oriented and may be setting the accountability checkpoint pace for the way all bass tournaments might be run someday using catch, photograph and release (CPR) rules.  Tournament anglers measure and photograph their top three bass during each of the two days, to be scored by total aggregate length.  Eligible species include largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass on human-powered kayaks.   No electric motors are permitted in this one.

There are not many tournaments that pay out 100% of the entry fees, but this one does.  That means big bucks for the top anglers.  For non-competitor visitors, there is much to watch and learn from these professional kayak anglers.  Above that, visitors and families will find there is a “Hobie Fun Fest” event held simultaneously from Kentucky Dam Village Beach.  Hobie invites all competitors and the general public to bring their family and friends to join in the festivities that will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5.  The Hobie Fun Fest is FREE and adventurists who enjoy kayaking will discover the incredible opportunity to demo the many forms and sizes of Hobie kayaks, including those cool, new SUP’s (Stand-Up Paddleboards) that you can fish or catch a few comforting sunrays from.  Even elder retirees are saying that these new craft are comforting to them because they offer warm thermal sun ray heat and exercise at the same time.  Check ‘em out here.

There will be raffles and prizes, food and fun, plus media coverage and a look at big fish catching techniques to be shared by onlookers and competitors.  The 1st and 2nd place finishers will qualify for the 6th Hobie Fishing World Championship.  Along with the prize money, the overall winner will collect top prize money plus free airfare, accommodations and entry fee covered courtesy of Kentucky Dam Village and Hobie Cat Company.

Questions about the tournament location and facilities, contact Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park, Gilbertsville, KY, 42044; phone: (270) 362-4271; web link:

Competitors with questions can contact Hobie tournament supervisor, Morgan Promnitz, at

Tournament Sponsors include Lowrance, Power-Pole, Ram Mounts, YakAttack, Fugoo, Daiwa, St.Croix Rods, Bassin’ Magazine, Marshall County Kentucky Tourism and Kentucky Dam Village.