To meet up with Chris, I took a twelve-hour drive to Arkansas, got one night of sleep, then a nine-hour drive to Phenix City, AL. I have seen on YakAngler.com many amazing pictures Chris has taken and some of the great catches he has made, and was extremely excited to finally meet him in person.
We woke up early and headed to the Chattahoochee River, which runs along the border of Alabama and Georgia. Our goal was to find some shoal bass, a new species for me. We started by working shorelines and structure. The fishing was a little slow, and we caught some small fish on a variety of baits. I was working a small wall and was able to catch my first shoalie!
We decided to work our way upriver to see what we could catch. Here was a decent size dam with shoals everywhere below it. We parked our kayaks up on the rocks, and started casting to the dam and every other place possible. We were having a blast catching shoalie after shoalie, along with spotted and largemouth bass.
Then it was time to head back. Instead of doing the smarter thing and walking our kayaks back down through the shoals, we took the one set of rapids. Ok, it was really just one rapid. Chris took it in his Jackson Kayak “Big Rig” and made it no problem. I loaded up my gear, and started making my way for the rapid. I paddled right into the rapid, and then like an idiot, stopped paddling. The water spilled into my kayak and flipped me in a matter of seconds - my first “turtle” experience.
As I flipped my kayak back over my crate lid opened up. I retrieved most of my gear, and then swam the kayak to the shore to put everything back. I realized I had lost two boxes of gear. After ten minutes of searching for them, we gave up and fished our way to back to the car. We then headed to another part of the Chattahoochee River, right below a hydroelectric dam. I have never fished right up by a dam this size before, and it was quite intimidating.
Sadly no fish wanted to play up there, so we walked our kayaks through the shoals and paddled across the rapid area to a dead spot along the shore. We started catching hybrid bass like crazy - another new species for me!
We decided to leave while the bite was hot, and headed back home for some dinner.
The next day, we hit another section of the river with Evan Howard and Chris’s son Ethan in search of striped bass with. Although they didn’t want to come out and play, we were able land some shoal, spotted, and largemouth bass. We worked our way up to the dam and were catching some small ones. It was time to float back, and we started working the shorelines. No more than five minutes into the trip back, Ethan landed an 18” shoal bass, his personal best. What a gorgeous fish and excellent catch! We all caught some more small ones, and had a great day on the water.
Sadly it was my time to head back to Arkansas, where I fished the Spring River again and landed a number of trout and panfish. Next up in our series is the final segment of “Travels of a YakAngler”, where I traveled to Nebraska for another tournament!