Why little plastic boats? When did you start kayak fishing?
I am a newbie as far as kayak fishing is concerned. My family was really big into the outdoors, and we went white water rafting and tubing quite a bit. I always saw those little plastic kayaks and thought how much fun it would be to use one. After convincing my parents to buy two inflatable kayaks, I was completely hooked - I took them on local lakes, rivers, and even did some white water kayaking. Because my family was into the outdoors, I also loved fishing. However, I never thought about putting the two together until I was fishing on my vacation down in Arkansas with the in-laws and saw someone drag a kayak to the water, put in poles, bait, etc. and paddle off. I was hooked from that second. I started that evening researching kayak fishing and looking at buying my own kayak. This was in August, and by the next January I had bought my first kayak!
You are one of our first members from Wisconsin. How popular is kayak fishing in Wisconsin?
Kayak fishing in Wisconsin is not as big as I would like it to be. I see some people looking for a fishing kayak on craigslist, and spot an occasional one for sale, but I still have never seen one on the water. Now kayaking is picking up pretty big, and sooner than later people will start figuring out they can fish from the small plastic boat. With that being said, some buddies of mine have seen one or two out fishing by their place. Almost every time I am out people ask, "Are you fishing out of that thing?" and then proceed to ask where I got my kayak, what I'm fishing for, how much did I pay? I am always happy to answer their questions as I hope I will see some more about them out there. It would be great to find a group of people that I can meet up with and do some fishing on a regular basis.
What is your biggest pet peeve while on the water?
My biggest pet peeve is when I am in my kayak, a friend’s boat, or even on shore. I really dislike it when a person in a power boat comes screaming by very close to me. Not only do you have to deal with bracing yourself for their wake, you have to make sure your line is fine and they don't run over you, AND you have see their ugly mug!
As a teacher of middle and high school level kids, do you ever hear them talk about kayak fishing?
I have heard rumors of a fishing club at my school, but that is about it in the high school. There is one middle school student that kayak fishes quite a bit. I believe his reasoning is that he can hook it up to his bike on a self-made trailer and hit the river that is close by. We have had many talks about rigging, fishing spots, and of course the great fishing stories! I hope to make the interest grow at school and possibly start a club where students can go out and fish.
Who or what was your biggest influence in kayak fishing?
One of my good friends, Jason Hauboldt, got me back into fishing after a many-year absence due to life getting in the way, and my cousin Patrick Joy is a fishing addict as well. They have both influenced me in fishing generally. As far as kayak fishing, I love the fact that I can get away from a busy life and just relax, enjoy nature, and catch some great fish - all with a boat that is environmentally friendly and quiet so I can sneak up on the fish! Those have to be some of my biggest influences in kayak fishing.
If money were no object what would your ultimate kayak fishing trip would be.
That is a tough question. I have two, and it would probably have to be dependent on the time of year. One would be fishing up in Northern Canada or the Rocky Mountains in a lake that is surrounded by forests, where you would be lucky to see people other than your group during your stay. The other would be fishing in Florida, and go in the swamps and the ocean. They both would be amazing. If money were no object, I would take both of them!
Tell us about the biggest or toughest fish to land in your kayak.
Since I am still a newbie I haven't landed too many big fish yet. I am going after some monster carp as soon as the water thaws this summer, though. That should be a fun fight! I would have to say the toughest fish I landed was a couple pound smallmouth bass on the Little Wolf River. I casted towards some brush a little ways before some rapids and he took my wacky worm! Although he had some fun first, it started out as an easy reel in until he swam into some brush at the back of a tree that was dead and hanging over the water. As he did this he dragged me right into the tree. Thankfully, after a little bit of maneuvering I was able to get out to the other side of the tree and bring him in before the rapids!
Are you a “lean and mean” or “everything including the kitchen sink” angler? What do you typically bring out with you on the water?
When I first started researching kayak fishing, I read the horror stories of people losing so much stuff to the deep. With how cheap I am, I did not want that to happen. I bought (and now make my own) leashes and leash everything down, and only bring the stuff I need. However, I need everything, as many of us do. I just keep everything down to a minimum. All baits and tools either fit into a shoulder bag that sits between my legs, or go in my PFD/fishing vest. Anything else that I might need just in case something happens are in my water resistant compartments at the front or back of my kayak.
Wisconsin is pretty frozen during the winter - how do you keep busy while waiting for spring?
I drool over pictures and videos you post on Yakangler.com. As I sit here and freeze my buns off I research new spots that I want to try, look at trips and tournaments I would like to try out, and work on modifying my yak. I have noticed that I spend a lot more money in winter. I keep finding these cool "must have" items! Darn all this research!
What, in your eyes, is the ultimate game fish? What species will you target over all others?
I love going after smallmouth bass, closely followed by largemouth bass. This is because the smallmouth put up such a great fight, and are a ton of fun reeling in! Besides that, I don't really have a specific reason except that is what my two mentors/influencers go after. I am happy with whatever bites the end of my line, although I always start out targeting bass.
Tell us something most people would NOT know about you.
I am a huge movie fan and have always wanted to compose the music for a movie. Although I don't have a good memory and can't remember all the movies I have seen, I love watching them. My wife Katie and I probably watch 2-3 movies per week. They range in genres from classics, comedy, drama, horror, suspense - even the chick flicks. I don't know exactly why I like them so much, but I do! As far as the composing part goes, I have composed music for a children's musical, but no movie yet. Maybe I will have to video tape some of my adventures and write some music to go behind it!
Campfire stories - everyone loves them. Tell us a story that wasn’t covered by the above questions.
My favorite story has to be the one that got me hooked back into fishing. I was out two summers ago fishing into the night with my friend on his boat. We started fishing for bass, but then went to a reef and started throwing a 1/8 oz jig with a Gulp! minnow going after white bass or whatever would take it. Well, I'm reeling in on this stony reef and all of a sudden my line starts zipping out! There was no bite, no nothing! I set it just to make sure, and started to reel it in. My friend walked me through how do handle it and make sure I was able to land whatever it was. After about a 10 minute fight it finally surfaced. I got a 36" carp! But he didn't take the bait; it caught him right behind the head! We were shocked it didn't come out after all that fighting! We took a picture, but couldn't see very well - that is why the picture is not the greatest. He emailed me the pics the next day, and I responded by saying, “I think I am hooked!” And I am! Every time my feet hit the shoreline and I start loading up, I think about the next time I will be back out!