*How did you get started kayak fishing?
I grew up in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 lakes. The first paddle vessel I ever experienced was a canoe. I felt that instant peace with the Earth - I remember that clearly. We paddled into back waters, places you can't normally get to. Watching the fish through the clear water devour the bait, a huge northern pike after your lure - it was real raw nature.
*What was your first kayak?
My father was a boat lover - old classic designs, smart and sleek. I, too, loved the way old craftsmen built boats for function and beauty. I acquired the first kayak I owned by trade. At the time, I owned a $25 Budweiser canoe with an ugly fiberglass patch holding the half-split vessel together. A neighbor had a gray cloth-type kayak in his yard, lying in the sun. I finally stopped by one day to see if he would trade it for my Budweiser canoe. I flipped the kayak over - it was a 1960s Folbot, sit-inside, low-profile tandem kayak. It had a yellow top and gray bottom, with a natural wood skeleton frame. It was a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. We found it comfortable and perfect for two people to fish.
*What types of fishing do you do?
Any type of fishing I can find - it's a sickness. I have been blessed to fish all over the U.S. for many species. I live around freshwater in the Midwest, and have many fine fisheries to choose from. But the “Land of 10,000 lakes” has my heart; Minnesota can spoil you. Saltwater kayak fishing is awesome, and I do hope to do more. It's a whole new world to learn about.
*What’s your most memorable day kayak fishing?
There have been many great days kayak fishing. Those big catches, the awesome fights... Probably the most memorable for me are all the days our family has shared with others the adventure and fun in kayaking and kayak . Watching the joy in a child paddling and communing with nature is awesome.
*You have won three straight Kayakapalooza tournaments in Nebraska, fishing against some very reputable kayak anglers.
Yes, I have won three against a field of guys who can fish and know the waters. And I never had fished any of the lakes before. Kayakapalooza 2011, I won by one point, if I remember correctly. Kayakapalooza 2012, I won by half a point. Kayakapalooza 2013, I won by 90 points! (Carrie has won three Emotion kayaks the last three years)
*What has been the key to your success?
My success is just stay with it, make it fun. I stick to basics most of the time. My father was a great fisherman. He always said "Think like the fish - what do they eat?” They live on basic foods available to them, and I try to present them correctly. Oh, singing a fish song will always help. Those catfish songs were a big help in all these tournaments!
*Did anyone have an influence on you as a child with your love for fishing?
My father was the biggest influence in my life. He was very intellectual, and studied everything he could about fishing. He was an athletic man, so he was a natural at the physical part. He fished every way possible and did it well, and also knew everything about it. I was blessed with a fine teacher. The 2013 Kayakapalooza was dedicated to my Dad, who passed in August, 2012. I fished harder than ever to win. I listened inside my head to every word he had ever said in my life, all summer long. It paid off, and I hung in there with some great anglers nationwide. A 90 point win is mind-blowing. Another kayak, wow!
*What advice do you have for other women who would like to try kayak fishing as an outdoor activity?
Get out there. Most people fear tipping over. The newer kayaks are very stable, and you can purchase a width that is comfortable and won't flip over very easy. Get out and paddle! It's very relaxing, and it’s great exercise, ladies (core muscles). Fish, read, commune with nature, just paddle - it's fun!
*Do you have a favorite kayak?
We own so many now I can choose my ride for the situation. ) I do like the Emotion “Stealth Angler” kayaks I have won. They are easy to move around and load. They are great for backwater adventures, and move through the water well. If I take the dog, I take my Ocean “Big Game”. It’s wider, and sits better with 50lbs of dog behind me.
*Do you have a favorite lure?
Basic rigs that work, like trolling a Red-eyed Wiggler for northern pike. I do love tossing a “wacky rig” for bass, and a basic “Lindy rig” for walleye. I like to rig a bluegill under a huge bottle bobber for “big kitty cat sleigh rides.” I have been asked to test fish some new lures, and I may have a few more favorites before long.
*What has been your greatest moment kayak fishing?
I would have to say the day karma rewarded me: I spent three hours on a local lake cleaning up trash. This is a high traffic state lake, and the amount of trash was nauseating. After paddling for months watching it pile up, I took a day to clean this part of the Earth. The entire kayak was covered when I came in. A gentleman had been watching and came over to thank me, and he had cleaned up his area. He helped me haul the trash to the bin. I had my rod and tackle with me in the truck, and it was getting toward sunset. I figured “OK, a few casts - don't take too much out.” With just my rod, two “YUM® Dingers” and a purple curly tail I had found on trash patrol I headed out. First cast, “Big Bam!” No hook-up. “Dinger” gone. Cast two, bam! Small bass rips up second Dinger. I laughed, and put on the curly tail. I cast up into first spot, I had drifted some, set the rod down, adjusted myself, BAM!......ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz!” I knew it was a nice bass! It came up on one huge jump - I had no net, nothing. It pulled me on a big run. When I gained control, I had a plan: Hold the fish in the water, set the fish on my lap, paddle like hell, repeat, all the way across the lake. The gentleman was waiting at the shore, and said "It's big - I saw it jump!” “Oh yes, it is, and I need a picture!” The fish was fine, and swam away to bring joy to another angler. Karma -she rocks!