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Being Versatile in Tournament Kayak Fishing

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Being Versatile 



    This year I had the opportunity to fish the Mid-Atlantic kayak fishing series. I had a very strong year, my rookie season, finishing second with rookie of the year as well as finishing in 7th total angler of the year points. In this series we fished many different bodies of water that test the skill of the anglers as well as planning. That is why being versatile and being able to use different baits or plans to catch a limit is so crucial in this sport. We all heard from pros that being versatile is an important skill but a lot of us don’t realize how important it is. This year fishing the series showed me I still have a lot to learn when it comes to preparing and being able to get out of your comfort zone when changing lure. So I’m going to give you a couple pointers as well as experiences that I went through this season.

   First thing is being versatile and understanding the area you are going to fish. In Delaware we have ponds and a couple tidal fisheries but they do not compare to lakes and tidal fisheries like the Upper bay, Potomac, reservoirs, and rivers we fish. One of the hardest things for me this year was trying new things that I wouldn’t really try in Delaware ponds. Pretty much all of our ponds you can catch on a jig, senko, chatter bait, and a creature bait. Not saying they won’t work in other fisheries but you have to be able to adopt to different fisheries as well the conditions. For example, we had a tournament on Rocky Gorge deep clear reservoirs with no vegetation, only rocks, hard bottom, and laydowns that extend to 15 feet of water. I pre-fished and caught good size bass on weightless worm and crankbait, but come tournament time I couldn’t get a bite off of a crankbait and all my fish were small on weightless worms. The top three caught them on a jig flipping laydowns into 10 feet of water, and the other caught his on a ruby style jig head with a creature bait. Two things I would never do or try to do but did open my eyes that during pre-fishing you should try EVERYTHING you can think of that might get you the bigger bite. Do not stay on one or two baits, keep in mind conditions might change and throw your plans out of the window and you need to be able to scrape up and go. 

   Also I learned that you need to be able to adopt and be able to use different stuff depending on the conditions or areas you are fishing. Understand to keep your ‘go to’ on the back burner and find another way to get them to bite. If you have trouble, then try one of your ‘go to’ that gets you a bite. If you always use your ‘go to’ every tournament or time you fish you will never learn to fish new things or have confidence to place that lure down and try something else that could help you get more bites. This year I had to put down lures to try new stuff. If I didn’t, I would never have finished in the top ten or get bites. Fish the conditions and see what you see. If you throw a bait that is only catching twelve inchers, then that is not what the fish want. You have to switch up and try new things or down size and figure out what the big ones want. Never stay complacent with one style, switch it up and learn new ways to catch fish on different bodies of water.

Third is keep it simple. Don’t make it complicated, learn new things but don’t try to learn every new technique. You’re only going to hurt yourself and the result will show. Understand what you are strong at. For me, I have a very strong finesse game when it comes to fishing so I try to be better at other areas of my game. But I do not try to learn everything. I grab a couple techniques, learn them and grow confidence with them. Probably my weakest area is moving baits lipless, spinnerbaits, crankbaits. So this year I made a conscious effort to throw more moving baits and had grown confidence in all of them knowing when and when not to throw them.