Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guest Post: Chris Payne on Kayak Fishing as a Family Affair

     I asked Chris to write a piece about sharing our passion with the family. This is a close personal subject to me and I want to thank him for taking this time and opportunity to write this. You can check out his ever growing kayak fishing blog at Paynespaddlefish.com


As a parent I make a lot of lists. I talk to myself internally and sometimes even externally. I plan, to the best of my abilities, what my children will do, sometimes well into their future. As my babies grow older into their teens and twenties, they will parade a front of false knowledge and in essence build a fortress of solitude that little information can penetrate. 


I'm not quite there yet.

Zeke is 8 and Anna Kate is 5. Those are fun ages of discovery, curiosity and the insatiable appetite that drives them to ask "Why?". I also know those brains are sponges that are collecting data and storing it in categories which usually revolve around the question, "Would I do that again- Yes or No?". I recognize that and am attempting to give my kids a gift. This gift isn't wrapped, nor is it purchased. The gift is something, actually two things, that I love and want them to love: kayak fishing.

Some Dads want their kids to be a great football player, a doctor, a lawyer, a fireman or something else. Some of us just want our kids to be healthy and responsible. I want my kids to have a hobby and let it grow into a passion. I know my kids. They are a brilliant mixture of their mom and me. I know Zeke is going to get stressed out in life. He wants everything to go smoothly. He doesn't like conflict. He internalizes. He is going to need a pressure relief valve just like I did. Fishing was my outlet. What I later discovered in 2003 was that combining fishing and kayaking also gave me an endorphin release from the exercise which in turn made me feel better about life. So for you mathletes out there: Exercise + Stress Reliever = Chilled Out Dude with a Good Attitude. That is important. 

Anna Kate is a different story. She looks just like her mom but her attitude is all me. She is my daredevil. She will try anything if you let her. If she gets bored, she makes her own fun. That is what I did. My parents gave me fishing at a young age and because I grew to love it, I spent most of my teens and twenties fishing rather than carousing and raising hell. Give me some spare time and I'd fill it with fishing. I still do. I hope to pass that along.

I am proceeding slowly with my plan. I could have them at the lake three times a week and kayak fishing could be their soccer, ballet or basketball. I don't want them to see it as a chore. I want them to ASK to go kayak fishing. 

I remember one of our first trips like it was yesterday. 

He likes fishing because he usually gets good snacks, he loves the water like a Lab and it's time spent together. I always have to remind myself, this is a trip for him, not me. He reminds me of it every time. Some days we spend six or seven hours out and some days just one or two. I'd take ten minutes to get to share this with him.

We got to the lake and portaged to the water with all the gear. He thought it was cool the kayak was making a trail in the sand. It looked like a snake trail he said. Before I could hop in the back of the tandem he was poling out to deeper water with the paddle. I grabbed the back of the kayak and hopped in to join him. We talked about the methods of paddling we had gone over on previous trips and he was ready to go. 


With him in the front he couldn't see me but he could sense the rhythm of the paddle strokes I was making behind him. He stayed in sync, left, right, left, right...I was beaming. My seven year old (at the time)was doing something I didn't do until I was 25. Watching him move a boat three times his length and one and a half times his weight made me glow on the inside. We paddled about 300 yards and took a break. With kids, you have to stop when they need to stop. Watch them. Their body language will tell you. I don't know that he would ever stop if I didn't ask him if we should take a break. 

We rested a bit, put our feet in the water, laid down for a spell and just chatted. He had a ton of questions about kayaks, fishing, water clarity, water depth and tons of other kayak fishing related ones. I answered them all and was asking for more. A little while later he was ready to fish. I had purchased some minnows because he loves to observe them, hand them to me, throw the dead ones out and other elementary school experiments. We baited out and drifted for a while. He lounged out in the front and just soaked in the Vitamin D. After twenty minutes and just one fish he was ready to go home. My first instinct was to try to convince him to stay longer but I quickly talked myself out of it. This was HIS trip. 

We totaled almost two hours total on the water. I got to spend some time with my son doing something we both enjoy and he got to play in the water, go fishing, paddle the big boat and spend some guy time with Dad. I wasn't sure how they day had registered with him so I asked. He said it was fun but the real testament that the slow and steady pace is working came later. About three hours after we got home he asked when we could go again. 

He really liked the gifts. Almost as much as I liked giving them.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Skinny Reds

     I recently took a trip down the coast and stayed in Port Aransas for a week. This was our second time down there and I love it more each time I visit there. This was also my first coastal trip since my addiction to kayak fishing started. There was no doubt that I was fishing from a kayak, in the ocean at some point on this trip.

     I mainly stick to lakes and ponds and occasionally a river or two, so to venture out into the big blue was going to be quite a new experience for me. I can watch all the You Tube videos I want, but nothing compares to actually being there and having first hand knowledge about what you're doing. I
decided to book a guide for my first ocean fishing experience for a variety of reasons. I knew nothing about tides, how shifty the coastal weather can be, fish patterns, and the list goes on and on. I simply didn't have enough experience in my mind to be on my own in the ocean and I didn't want to compromise my safety and the well being of my two buddies with me. I called Slow Ride Guide Services in Aransas Pass and booked a trip with Dean Thomas who is the owner of Slow Ride and one of the first to be on the Wilderness Systems Pro Staff. I had heard about what a character Dean was and what a good time he shows his clients on the water, and he didn't disappoint. After I hung up the phone with Dean, many months in advance, I looked at my wife and told her, "I think I'm going fishing with Matthew McConaughey." He had that kind of Texan, surfer thing going on in his voice and I knew it would be a lot of fun.

     On the day of our trip we arrived at the kayak shop at about 5:30 in the morning and followed Dean to the marina. There we launched in his brand new skiff, this is one impressive boat, and took off to the location that we would be fishing. I could tell that Dean was a little worried that fishing would be slow, due to unusually high winds and extremely low tides, but I wasn't worried. As we passed several different flat areas they were eerily dried up to the bone and the shallow water along the shore line looked like it could be a problem trying to anchor up. We managed to find a nice branch that Dean had suspected to hold fish based on the bait traveling patterns due to the dried up flats. We immediately untied and launched our Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120's and got straight to fishing. right off the bat we could see Mullet jumping across the surface and the torpedo like wake behind them. This we were informed was our target, the Redfish or Red Drum, would produce a very noticeable wake and sometimes they could even be spotted in only a few inches of water with backs and tails breeching the surface. For the next five hours Dean paddled along side us pointing out signs of our prey and how to catch them, it was like having our own fishing coach. All morning there were signs of life and action. Early in the morning I landed a Skip Jack that put up an impressive fight for how small he was, and it looked like it was going to an action packed day. As the day progressed we all had top water blow up after blow up but could not get the fish to actually bite the hook, and that's pretty much how it remained the rest of the outing. It was very frustrating all day because we could plainly see fish everywhere, they were just lazy and didn't want to commit to biting our hooks.

     Disappointed? Yes, of course, but what angler wouldn't be? However, I don't walk away from this trip empty handed at all. This experience has poured a foundation of experience that I feel I can build on for many future trips to come. I have gained invaluable information from my five hours with Dean Thomas that has helped me to consider all the underlying factors that come along with kayak fishing in the saltwater. I know that Dean was disappointed that we walked away without any fish, but like I told him, you put us on the fish, you cant make them bite too. I will 100% book a trip with Dean next time I'm in Port A, just for the good time.