Small, isolated rivers
I can’t think of anything nicer than backing the boat back into the water just as the morning sun is on the horizon and spending an entire day fishing in the spring and early summer .
It is a magical time of year because there are occasions when the fish are ready to cooperate from day to night.
But their willingness to cooperate is certainly undergoing a big change as summer progresses and daytime highs rise. In fact, they eventually get so finicky that I can hardly hope to fish in the lakes in our area until the cooler temperatures return.
But that’s not necessarily an indication that I’m ready to hang it up until the following spring. Instead, I’m ready to change my approach and choose a different type of water. That’s right, it’s time to park the big boat and dust off the kayak.
Now when I mention kayak fishing I am not referring to a boat that is rigged with all the bells and whistles. I understand that the mindset of many has changed over the years. It is not uncommon to see these boats rigged with more modern gadgets than on my bass boat.
Personally, I have no problem with kayak fishermen rigging their little plastic boats with electronics, half a dozen rods and reels, and an amazing selection of lures. And if that’s what makes you happy, then knock yourself out.
However, it is not for me. Call me ‘the old school’, but when it comes to kayak fishing, my main goal is to find a secluded river and get back to basics. We’re talking about a paddle, rod, reel, handful of lures, and a properly sized drink to keep me hydrated. This is all I need.
I really like the challenge of analyzing the terrain above the shore to determine the arrangement of the substrate below the water surface. And I find a sense of accomplishment in locating fish without the aid of any gadget, other than maybe a pair of polarized sunglasses.
There is something to be said about thinking like a fish, and anyone can do it with a little practice. With experience, one can very well point out the exact places where they are most likely to find their next catch.
It might be something as simple as a log or a submerged rock in the shade of an overhanging tree. Perhaps it is a ledge located at the edge of a colony of aquatic vegetation, or perhaps a deep basin at the foot of rapids.
Of course, understanding the habits of the species you are chasing is essential, but just as important is understanding their food source. Where could the crayfish hide? Where might baitfish congregate? Where could they take cover? In what type of water will they be the most vulnerable?
While rivers can prove to be much more productive than lakes during hot summer days, they are no different in the sense that there are simply days when the fish refuse to bite.
But that’s okay too, because I can always find something to occupy myself on these beautiful isolated streams. Maybe I’ll sail slowly along the water’s edge and scan the shore for cottons and bullfrogs. And there is always the possibility of paddling in shallow water and identifying small fish that suddenly scurry up and disappear in the depths.
There were also times when I just backed up the craft into a little nook and stood perfectly still in the hopes of seeing native wildlife visit the water’s edge unsuspectingly for a drink. And with any luck, I might even be able to observe in amazement when a large sea bass suddenly springs from the depths and attacks its prey on the surface of the water.
Yes, there are definitely times of the year when I feel the most compelled to drag my bass boat to the lake. But the more I think about it, I also appreciate the solitude, and the experience of getting back to basics on small, isolated rivers, if not more.