1. Why little plastic boats? When did you start kayak fishing?
I started kayak fishing around three years ago. I have always shoreline fished and couldn't help but think that being on the water would help catch the big boys and keep from catching snags. I chose to fish from a kayak because the cost of gas, the size and licensing of a gasser (what I call the motor boats), and the limitations that you have due to owning one of those boats, were too great a cost at the time. I would love to have a nice offshore boat to hit the Florida Keys every year, but that would be an issue at this point.
I love the kayaks because I can get some good strength training, cardio workout, the ability to get into tight spots quietly, and the fishing is great.
2. You have won two kayaks this month, what is your secret? What type of contest are you entering?
I technically didn't win both of them. I entered a Bass Pro Shops contest in February and was not chosen. They had the same drawing the following weekend but I wasn't available to go enter, so my mother, being the loving mother she is, went and entered both of our names for the contest. A few weeks later she was contacted, and then told me to go pick it up! The second contest was a Facebook competition. Its rules were simple - LIKE, SHARE and INVITE. The more people that entered under your link, the more entries you received. I guess I just hit enough people to get the most entries there. I've never been lucky or really won anything over $100 - unless you count the free trip I got for winning the spelling bee in school. I plan to continue enter contests as much as I can to win more boats. I want to start a guide service here in Missouri, and free boats are awesome!
3. What is your biggest pet peeve while on the water?
Trash, especially fishing line. Most of the anglers that I see out there pitch cigarette buds in the water, or cut their fishing line when they get a snag. That's crap. I'm a smoker and have a pocket. While I might pinch out the coals, I save the butt until I find a trash can. As far as the line goes, I clean up thousands of yards of line all the time. It isn't that hard to put a towel or part of your shirt around your hand then pull the line. If it breaks so be it, but at least you tried to recover it. I myself find that more times than a few I actually get my tackle back doing this. I may straighten a hook, but at least it's not still in the blue and slowly dissolving or worse, causing a hang-up for someone else or a fish.
4. Who or what was your biggest influence in kayak fishing?
I can honestly say that YakAngler.com is currently my biggest influence. What got me started was a friend who bought a boat, but that guy really isn't into it as much as I am now. I can't name more than two pro-anglers out there right now; I'm not really a star struck type of person. When I came to this site, it was the third fishing site I found that had kayak angling in it. Well, the others are not very active at all. I've learned more here in the past two months than I've learned about fishing my whole life.
5. A fire breathing kayak fisherman: how did you get into spitting fire, and is it as dangerous as it looks?
Ha-ha - I started fire breathing in bars and nightclubs I worked in about thirteen years ago. It was really just a way to get the crowd "fired up" about a drink or shot special. Then it became a regular request, weekend after weekend. I got a bit more serious about it and decided to look up some other fire breathers, and now am a professional getting paid for shows.
It is extremely dangerous and is the most life-threatening of the fire arts. You can develop chemical pneumonia if it's not done properly, and there is always that chance of burning your face off.
6. You mention A.D.D rules your life; what about kayak fishing has allowed you to stay focused and relaxed?
I think the fact that there is so much that you have to pay attention to while on the water is what calms me. It's not like shoreline fishing, where you cast and sit in your chair waiting for a bite. You have several things to be aware of and take into consideration before you cast. I sometimes stand on the bank before a launch for about five minutes to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. I get excited once the boat is off the roof of the car and would just jump in to be on the water if I didn't take the time to remember to grab my PFD and paddle. Adding the fishing aspect to it causes an even bigger checklist of things to worry about - that's if I could concentrate long enough to make a checklist.
7. If money were no object what would your ultimate kayak fishing trip would be.
I think if I were well enough off to do it, I would like to hit every state in the US in a single year to kayak fish from each one somewhere. That would give me one state per weekend, and a couple weekends to get to Alaska and Hawaii or stick around a bigger state and hit another spot. That would be the ultimate ride for me. I don't really care what bodies of water, or so much what fish I target, as long as I can eat some of it along the way and hit up every one of the states.
8. At one point in your life you worked as a chef, give us your best “cook your catch” recipe.
I'm actually still a chef although I don't currently work in a restaurant. I do private gatherings for a fee and that doesn't happen that often because I charge a lot. The cooking thing started for me at six years old, making beans and hotdogs. I moved up to making spaghetti from scratch by the time I was eight, and the entire Thanksgiving dinner by age ten. It was gift given to me. I am aware that I will never be what I consider a master chef; there is just too much food in the world to learn to make. I experimented with making my own sauces in my early teens. I like to keep the cooking itself to a minimal alteration if I can and add the flavors at the end for the most part. I realized early that cooking is really chemistry. What tastes bad cold will taste better warm because the chemicals are reacting in the food. That's how I came up with the sauces. One I like to use often for fish, and it works very well on most, is a horseradish sweet sauce. It breaks down to this:
1/2 cup prepared horseradish drained
1 freshly squeezed large orange
1 shots of gin (1-2oz.)
1 stick of butter or 1/2 cup or 8 tbsp
1/2 cup brown sugar
Fish of your choice. I prefer salmon or redfish
Grill or bake your fish. While it is cooking, melt the butter in a small quart pot. Once that is done, fold in the brown sugar until it is dissolved completely. Add your orange juice and gin. Once they are completely mixed, pull from heat and add the horseradish. Mix that in very well; it should be a rather thick mix.
Once the fish is near the last minute or two of cooking, spoon and spread the mixture over the top of the fish and allow it to bake in. It should be like a top crust. Save some of the mixture for spooning over while eating as well. This recipe also works very well on a corned beef brisket.
It is phenomenal on redfish as I found out this past winter. I wouldn't use it on crappie though, because crappie is just fine the way it is!
9. Tell us about the biggest or toughest fish to land in your kayak so far.
Ahh, this is easy. It was not by any means worthy of a fanfare. Early on in my kayak fishing, I was on an intermediate river in a rental. There was no fish finder, no anchor - not much of anything but me, a kayak, and a rod. I had just pulled a smallmouth out of the water and cast back to that same spot. Drag started screaming off the spool. I continued fighting for about fifteen minutes and finally pulled an eight pound drum up into the boat. I was rather freaked out at first at the size of it. I think it was around 27”long and had some girth to it. We put it on the scale and it came up to eight pounds. Before we could measure it, it jumped off and got away.
10. Music is your dream and the career you have been pursuing, so what in your eyes is the best kayak fishing tunes? What do you listen to while on the water or driving to your launch?
While driving to the spots I like to listen to electronic dance music with a bit of tempo. It's known as “break beat” music, and that's a subgenre of EDM. I like it because it gets me pumped up for the opening paddle out. I don't often listen while on the water but if I do, it's usually Bob Marley. It's a nice relaxing mellow mood that keeps me from cussing like the pirate I am when I lose a fish, or do something stupid like getting my rods that are in my holders in waiting tangled in the trees because I get too close to the banks.
11. Are you a “lean and mean” or “everything including the kitchen sink” angler? What do you typically bring out with you on the water?
I would go with lean and mean on this one. My boat weight stands at 350lbs. capacity. I'd like to think that one day I'll have a big enough fish to exceed that with a catch and gear. I only bring out what I think I'm going to go through. My list is usually one ultra-light combo, two medium combos, my individual Plano boxes with weights, bobbers, hooks, and one with lures in my crate. A live well will be on the list if I'm going for crappie or bass, unless it's restricted by the waters I'm on. My PFD is always on me so that's not really what I consider equipment anymore; it becomes part of me while it's on. A 25’ stringer goes, as well, for those “just in case” moments. Up until this year, I had not done much about safety because of the small bodies of water I'm on, but now I'm looking for the safety flag and stern light, emergency kit, and such. An anchor trolley and anchor will be installed soon. I am learning more about ocean fishing, too, and have been pricing VHF radios. A fish finder would be nice, but is out of the budget for a while. I'm in a contest for one of those too, though.
12. What, in your eyes, is the ultimate game fish? What species will you target over all others?
If you're asking what the ultimate game fish is where I live, I would say probably a blue catfish. I have yet to hook one, but am still not what I would consider seasoned enough to get on a large river like the Mississippi to go after one. In saltwater, I want to go after a tuna of some type. I'm not dumb enough to try a bluefin but I would still like to battle something close to that so I can bring home some steaks. I see a lot of guys going after big fish in the ocean - that's great, go after it! If I can't bring it home, though, I don't consider it a trophy fish.
13. Tell us something most people would NOT know about you.
I guess the biggest thing is a lot of people look at me (figuratively) and think that I'm pretty much into the material life. I think I am, to an extent, but the older I get the more I just want to find a good spot to go and become a hermit. Living off the land and what is provided naturally would be the way of life I would love to lead. It saddens me to see that some of my cousins (by marriage) who are Native Americans have lost a lot of their own culture, and all those things in the history books you read about are long gone. Some of them couldn't tan a hide of a kill, some couldn't begin to hunt (not that I can worth a damn either) - that just saddens me. The "what if" of life is always stuck in my head, I would like to be prepared for anything to happen.
14. Campfire stories - everyone loves them. Tell us a story that wasn’t covered by the above questions.
Well I am quite the talker in person, so there are many. I guess the thing I like the most is pretty recent. In November, 2012 a friend of mine and I drove from St. Louis to Marathon in the Florida Keys. The most we ever catch is bluegill, crappie, bass, and catfish. Every so often there might be something different in there. Perch are few and far but they're fun to catch. So there is a full list of the fish that I'm able to go after for the largest part of things. While there, in the Keys, we caught over fifteen new species of fish, and it was fantastic! Grunt, pigfish, puffer, porgy, bonnethead shark… On the first night, my friend hooked into something we never saw, but when we explained to the locals what the forty five minute fight was like they told us it was probably a nurse shark. There were several snapper: mutton, mangrove, and yellowtail - none worth a good sized meal but caught none the less. On our charter we hit some bonita - GREAT FIGHT - a single cero mackerel, and we even had a shot at some dolphin! We were told that they shouldn't have even been there, which is why the captain was excited and screaming at us to cast and reel, cast and reel. I could have spent several more days there to get out. I didn't have a kayak of my own at that time, so I didn't even think of what it would be like to be out there on one. Then a guy came floating along on one, and I was hooked. "So much freedom" is all I could think while watching him paddle in the crystal clear water under the bridge. I'm sold and ready for more now.