My Jackson Kayak “Big Rig” was already on top of the truck, so I loaded a Kilroy and a ladies PFD for her. Mrs. Bonnie is no stranger to the water, but this was going to be her first kayak fishing trip. The area we planned to fish was not the easiest spot to access. With our help we were confident she would enjoy the trip.
I met them at the landing at sunrise and gave her a quick lesson on kayaking, and then we launched and headed upriver. The spot we were heading to is beautiful, but you have to wade and drag the boats over a long set of shallow shoals to reach the “promised land”. As soon as we got to the last set of rocks, Mrs. Bonnie exclaimed, “Now THAT was an adventure!” We finally got back into our kayaks and headed into the place we wanted to paddle. The clear water was full of spawning carp, and several gar shot below us as we paddled. A muskrat with his cheeks stuffed with leaves swam in front of us and scurried into a hole in the bank. Overhead, a pair of immature eagles were cackling and fighting with each other. We had already seen a show, and the real action hadn’t even started yet. Mrs. Bonnie said, “Without these kayaks I would have never seen all of this!” She was starting to see why we love our little plastic boats.
She and Rob paddled up ahead and started working the sunken timber as I rigged my rods. I heard a holler upriver, and saw Mrs. Bonnie with her rod bowed over. She had struck first, and ended up with a nice little spotted bass. She held it up for a picture then tossed it back in the water. Rob said “Mom, we are after an eatin’ mess of fish - don’t toss back supper!” She did the same thing with her next fish; Rob and I knew we had our work cut out for us if fried fish was on the menu. He skipped a Gary Yamamoto “Senko” up into a brush pile and said, “I may never get him out but I gotta try.” As soon as the words were out, his rod bowed over and a nice fish thrashed on the surface. Thankfully, the surface fight kept the fish out of the sticks, and he quickly had the start of a fish fry.
I was busy laughing at the mom-to-son conversation from the other side of the river, but had managed to find a few cooperative fish myself. They were eating a wacky-rigged finesse worm as fast as I could skip it to the bank. This type of action on a medium-light spinning rod and 8lb test is one of my most favorite ways to fish. We probed every tree on the bank for a good ways upriver until we got to a pile of rocks that jutted out in the middle. I cast my finesse worm out over the rock pile, and saw a dark brown shadow rise from the depths below it. The nice shoal bass came up and sipped the tip end of the worm as gingerly as a rainbow trout takes a dry fly. I had to painstakingly watch the bass turn and swim toward the depths with the hook outside its mouth. A couple feet into the dive I saw it chomp the rest down and I set the hook. Let me tell you, I love bass - all species of bass - but there is nothing that makes my heart go into overdrive as quickly as a nice shoal bass.
As the morning progressed, we all caught fish and enjoyed the beautiful stretch of river. When we neared the shoals on the return trip, I asked Rob if we were going to float it out or wade. There is a short section of paddleable whitewater that we regularly go through, but I was concerned about Mrs. Bonnie. Rob said, “She will be fine,” so I told her I would wait at the end of the rapid and he would be right there with her. You could see her smile from the time she started till she reached the bottom of the rapid. When she got to me she said, “That was scary and too much fun all at the same time!”
I was honored to spend the day with Rob and his mom, and to give her a brand new way to look at the water. I have no doubt when she is visiting in the future that we will have to get an extra kayak ready. She handled our stretch of river like she had been kayaking for years, and certainly caught her share of fish. Next time we just have to make sure she keeps them!