Category Archives: Editorials

The Importance of Regional Kayak Fishing Clubs

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of simplicity in kayak fishing.  “…fishing, enjoying the outdoors, relaxing, and camaraderie…guys/gals that simply wanted to enjoy the sport and each other’s company”.  Although I enjoy kayak fishing on the face of it, I’d argue that the latter point has been what I value the most.  And it does the most for the sport in general.

Local and regional kayak fishing clubs tend to be purely for that camaraderie and (typically) devoid of bull***t.  I have met an incredible, diverse group of folks that I keep in close contact with frequently, both on and off the water.    In the decade I fished from a boat, that never happened.  It’s hard to describe — the mentalities are so, so different.  Kayak anglers simply seem to be more friendly, more open, and more focused on the good stuff.  The groups I’m a part of organize random fishing trips for fun, openly mentor each other, share tips, and hold friendly tournaments (either for the hell of it or for a charity).  And that’s it.

If you’re just getting started fishing from a kayak or canoe, I can’t stress strongly enough how much benefit you’ll gain from a local group.  And there are a ton of them!  See our “Organizations” list for ideas.  Obviously, that’s not exhaustive by any means (let us know if we should add one), so hit Google for your specific area as well!

No, You Don’t Know the Sex of that Largemouth

“Fishing Lore” vs. Hard Science

All too often, as taxpaying fishermen, we’re guilty — yeah, me, too — of griping that we’re not getting enough fisheries-improving bang for our bucks. But if those improvements are made, and we fail to use them — or, worse, fail to even make any effort to find out where and what they are — then we’re being both hypocritical and willfully ignorant.

A lot of our fishing-related taxes and fees go into hard scientific research. A lot of sharp, hardworking academics have been toiling for a lot of years at trying to make us smarter fishermen. And, for the most part, we’ve been ignoring them. If we need to know whether, say, there is a correlation between lure size and color and the average size of fish caught in a given body of water, we’ll log into some forum and let a bunch of people share their (often extensive) anecdotal experiences. Absolutely nothing wrong with that whatsoever. You might actually learn something. I certainly have.

The problem is that we often use either the plausibility of a statement to determine its validity — or, worse, its degree of acceptance by others. We “old pros” often blithely pass along our hard-won “knowledge”, and sometimes — sometimes, mind you — we’re dead wrong. Let me give you an example.

You’ve seen it done a thousand times by fishing-TV-show hosts. They lip a largemouth, hold it up and announce that it is a male or a female (usually based on a cursory visual examination of one or more of its gross physiological characteristics — girth, gut shape, yada-yada-yada). I used to do this. Maybe your buddies do this. Maybe you do it.

“Mmmm. Nice little male.”

“Ooooo-EEE! Lookit THIS ol’ gal! She’s jist BULGIN’ with babies!”

If so, please stop. You are merely perpetuating yet another useless piece of “wisdom-of-the-crowd” fishing “lore” that is absolute 100% unadulterated horse manure.

FACT: Nobody — not even a biologist — can accurately tell the sex of a given bass at a glance!

There are only three relatively simple and practical field methods of determining the sex of a largemouth bass, and two of them, depending upon the season, may provide about the same accuracy as flipping a coin:

1. Determining the presence or absence of a swollen, reddish genital papilla — and while this method can be up to 89% accurate in the spring, it is only 48% accurate in the fall;

2. Examining the shape of the scaleless area surrounding the urogenital opening — and this method is only 53% accurate at any time;

3. Measuring the depth and angle of probe penetration into the urogenital opening — and this method only offers a relatively high probability of accuracy (90-98%) if you do both, and with the proper instrument.

So the next time some “old pro” just holds up a bass, looks at it and says, “This one’s a male!” or “This one’s a female!”, you should tell them precisely where they need to stick it — and exactly how deep.

Source: Practical Field Methods of Sexing Largemouth Bass, G.W. Benz and R.P. Jacobs, The Progressive Fish-Culturist (1986;48:221-225)

Kayak Fishing: Keep It Simple!

Take a look at this kayak that’s “fully rigged” for kayak fishing.  What’s your initial response?


Some might say “Awesome, everything you could possibly need.”  Fair enough.  But to me, this looks like utter chaos, stress, and an OCD nightmare.  This is called a “garbage barge”.  Not only is it anxiety-inducing, but what happens when you fall in and need to remount?  Good luck with that.

Personally, I first got into kayak fishing for the simplicity.  After owning a fishing boat for many years, constantly fretting over maintenance, and always having-to-have the latest gadgets and toys, the whole setup became extremely distracting.  It nearly ruined what should be the primary focuses: fishing, enjoying the outdoors, relaxing, and camaraderie.  And early on, the community was full of just that: guys/gals that simply wanted to enjoy the sport and each other’s company, ignoring the pull of commercialism and materialism that had long since invaded fishing.

Of course, that still exists to a certain degree.  Kayak and canoe fishing’s benefits remain, and its participants tend to be the polar opposites of our glitter-boat brethren.  However, I’d argue that the commercialism has started to take over some kayak anglers’ mindsets.  We’re bombarded with ICAST this and YakAngler-says-I-can’t-fish-without-it that.  Rigs start looking like the above photo, drowning the owner in gadgets.  Further, some anglers will only fish with their prostaff teammates or owners of the same brand of equipment.  Someone fishing from a simplistic kayak, bought from a big-box store, with a minimal amount of gear can be looked down upon as inferior.  Absurd.

In the end, I guess it doesn’t really affect each of us — personally, we can still enjoy the sport however we want.  However, I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed and sad that others can’t simply enjoy the sport for what it is.

Any thoughts?  Comment below!