Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kayak equipment has become popular

In the not too-distant-past, fittings and accessories were about as scarce as hen's teeth. With the popularity of this ever growing sport, accessories and ways to install them is about as popular as the kayaks themselves.
Take something as simple as a rod holder. I confess that it took me a couple of years to add Scotty rod holders. Scotty, in my opinion is a leader is the rod holder industry because of the portability of it's products and adaptability.
Portability comes about with the was a rod holder can be moved, turned or even taken off. Adaptability has to do with various configurations that can make that rod holder taller, have the ability with one holder to accept both spinning and baitcast equipment and  ease in permanent or the more popular trac mounting.
The Scotty mount is the key to the rod holders, multiple rod holders, extenders and other accessories.
Propulsion of a kayak is done by paddle or pedal. Sometimes some trolling motors or other mechanical devices may be used to move a kayak through the water.
Paddles, probably the main type of equipment to propel a kayak have changed. They used to be and still are available not much more than a straight shaft with a paddle attached to either end.
These days paddles come in different shapes and sizes. Probably the crankshaft or bent shaft models are the most popular.
Paddle shafts are still made from wood, however, the most in use these days are made from a variety of materials like aluminum, graphite and other products. The goal is to keep everything as light as possible while keeping equipment strong.
Pedal style kayaks have graduated to one brand practically having the market to several others beginning to develop pedals as part of their respective lines.
Purchasing a new kayak these days is all about choices. Where and how will you use your boat? Is it going to be used primarily in small, inland waters, perhaps rivers or on larger lakes such as one of the Great Lakes.
Price range has more to do with comes on the boat that anything else. Lower end boats will have some kind of seat back but no bottom for the seat. Try riding in that for several hours while fishing a tournament.
Seats come in a variety of sizes, styles and comfort that should fit the needs at any angler. Those rod holders are add on's or "mods" as in modifications. These days, some yaks come with factory installed, flush deck mounted rod holders.
Storage space on a kayak is precious real estate. How much will you require? Kayak brands of boats all differ on what is offered for storage. Some is meager while others provide enough to carry everything in your garage.
Weight and stability are high up on the shoppers list. Generally, the wider the boat the more stable. But you pay a price for width in the form of weight. Consider that if you are a car topper and have to load and unload alone.
There are enough kayakers on nearby waters for you to find one and ask the owner/operator any question that comes to mind.
Do your homework and paddle before you buy. And remember, there are many different accessories to make your kayaking trip more enjoyable and comfortable.
Roger Beukema in Scotty rigged kayak.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Safari Club Flint Chapter, thanks for the honor

This past Saturday I was the guest of the Flint Chapter of Safari Club International at the chapter's 35th annual wild game dinner and fundraiser.
The reason for my invitation was to be recognized as that chapter's "Media Person of The Year."
This recognition and award came about through the recommendation of chapter Education Director, Tim Pifher.
Tim is much more than a director. He's been involved in the outdoors for as long as I've known him-some 40 years-and especially when it comes from making outdoor activities accessible to all people regardless of their physical condition.
Tim knows of what he speaks. He was born with cerebral palsy which basically leaves him very little strength in his extremities along with other issues.
With all of the physical hurdles to get over, Tim has never wavered in his pursuit to get disabled people outdoors hunting, fishing, skiing, or doing whatever sport they enjoy.
We served together on the board of "Outdoors Forever," a all-volunteer group dedicated to accessibility. During those years, we fought and introduced legislation that was in favor of such things as fishing piers for wheelchairs, accessibility in the woods for deer hunters and modifications in the equipment used for these and other activities.
While I've continued to write about the disabled in the outdoors from time to time, Tim continues to speak at functions, work on legislation and educating the public.
Any awards for service to mankind should come to Tim Pifher. He's gone above and beyond working to improve these conditions and carry on the founder of ODF, the late Roger McCarville.
Thanks for thinking of me, Tim.
L-R Dennis Peters, Roger Beukema and John Kupiec, by Beukema

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sometimes smaller is jus right

My choice of equipment hasn't always been good. I always tend to go with smaller. Shorter rods, smaller baits, shorter kayak, less powerful gun for hunting and so forth. I try to minimize what I take with me.
I'll often fish with line too light for the bait i'm throwing, the place i'm fishing or the species I'm after.
What made me think of this was a recent post on the Facebook page of Michigan Kayak Fishing. Someone inquired as to how many rods and how much tackle people took on the water with them.
Keep in mind, space is very limited on a kayak. Most people convert a milk crate or some other similar sized container to store their bait trays, attach rod holders to and maybe put their lunch in.
Ive seen kayakers and talked with many that wouldn't go on the water with at least nine rods. Where they put them, I have idea. Having said that, I have seen yaks bristling like a shocked porcupine with so many rods sticking up around the aforementioned crate.
Some people carry all the tackle they own. One guy wrote he fished for years with one rod and zip lock bag with his lures and plastics.
Ive been all over the map carrying a large tackle bag loaded to almost being unable to close, and more rods than I could use in a day.
Lets face it. Once you get on the water you're only going to use a half-dozen baits is a day of fishing. Same for rods. Some argue they like to pre-rig rods with baits they intend to use so they don't waste time tying them on. They must be some serious anglers.
I use the time to change lures as a chance to stretch, perhaps change positions, grab a snack or drink of water and most import, enjoy the day. The fish will be there.
My equipment list is short. Two spinning rods and one bait casting, two Plano 3640 boxes, a small box for terminal tackle usually my vest and tools that I carry on a lanyard around my neck.
My kayak is smaller than most. It's a Wilderness Systems Ride 115 that is just a shade over ten-feet. Thinking I would be able to load and unload it easier by myself and because I fish many inland lakes I think I made the right choice.
In the past I've had several Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120's. They are a couple of feet longer and take a little heavier weather better than my Ride.
I do use a regular size paddle (for me) but I carry a 24-inch Assualt paddle for maneuvering while fishing.
What you carry with you in the field or on the water is a personal choice. But bigger isn't necessarily better.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Like an elevator weather goes up and down

So far this winter, there can't be too many complaints about our weather around SE Michigan. Cross country skiers will have to go north of Standish to find any decent skiing, and ice anglers probably a bit further.
But those that detest shoveling snow or getting the snow blower out don't have a lot of squawk about. How about living in southern California this past week?
This part of the country has been inundated with rain, turning streets into rivers with sinkholes, and dried up rivers overflowing banks and dams.
Consider California hasn't seen any rain to speak of for several years, it looks like they will get that much and more in a couple of days. What they need is a nice shower over a week or more. These downpours created more problems in the form of mudslides, stranded motorists and many citizens needing to be relocated.
Around here we get our paybacks too. The weather folks say the next week will be above normal temperatures.
But down the road when we think we've ducked winter for a year, the next big snowfall will change all of that thinking.
Mother Nature doesn't give a whit about those spring flowers poking their pretty, colorful heads up through cold, wet soil.
Ww could experience freezing cold days along with heavy snow even in early spring just when the garden is calling us to till the soil in preparation to plant some seeds.
I think local anglers have given up on ice fishing and are putting their efforts in to getting boats and equipment ready for open water.
Kayak friends are chomping at the bit to slide their yaks into local lakes to try out those new square bill crank baits Santa left for them in their stockings.
But like all good things, patience is key. It's going to take a bit more time for local lakes to unlock what ice is left making waters fishable for another year.
If you haven't given in on not ice fishing anymore this year, better pack it up. There definitely is no such thing as safe ice.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Why kayak tournament fish for bass

Why not, indeed. First, you have the opportunity to meet people with similar interests and it's not necessarily competition.
However, it is about fishing water for bass, pike, panfish or anything else you care to hook into. 
-It's about adhering strictly to safety when on the water. That means wearing your PFD, carrying a first aid kit, mirror or while for signaling, and some sort of direction finder to get you back to the launch.
-It's about what others take on the water for fishing. Some roll up with an entire Bass Pro loaded into their boats. There are rods for this and that, line for this kind of weather, doubles on baits in case one gets lots and so forth.
-You learn how to secure everything in the event you roll over or "turtle." As you plan to lay your equipment out remember everything needs to be somehow secured to the boat or made to float.
-You'll see some boats outfitted with enough electronics to land a 757 at Metro Airport in zero visibility. Others sport no electronics, rather depending on lake area maps and satellite views.
-What baits to use when and where? Some go without saying: dark barks on overcast days and lighter colors on sunny days. It actually comes down to what your are comfortable with.
-Which rod do you use? The one you are the most comfortable. I throw bait casters and spinning but prefer spinning gear on a yak. It probably has something to do with sitting so close to the water.
-Clothing is always an issue. In the summer, wear something on your feet. Crocks, tennis shoes or other water shoes protect your feet in the event you need to get out of your boat for whatever reason. Around the ramp, foot coverings are essential due to rocks, discarded cans broken bottles and the like. In the boat, I sometimes slip my crocks off for a bit. But I keep that cockpit picked up with no loose plugs or hooks lying about.
-Finally, you're sure to have more questions than answers if you are a beginner. Check out Michigan Kayak Trail or Michigan Kayak Fishing on Facebook. Google kayak fishing or for specific questions about equipment head for You Tube.
With launch day about six weeks off now is a good time to do your homework, ask questions and be prepared for that first trip.
Spring on Otsego Lake. Note the Frogg Togg pants, crocks, long sleeve shirt and PFD. By Beukema

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Thin ice anglers thinking of launching the kayaks

Warm weather, loss of snow along with some open water on inland lakes have made kayak anglers 4think about launch time.
From discussions about what clothing to wear for a winter yak outing to what baits might attract a bass, many have opinions of these subjects.
There have been lots of posts on Ice Book from "newbies" wondering what a good beginners boat might be that is stable but not too hard on the wallet.
New boats are followed closely by what rods, reels and lures most takers use. In that mix, pfd's are mentioned as to comfort, storage pockets and which type will keep you afloat should you find yourself in the water.
Over the past few days, beginners are wondering where they can fish locally for a variety of species.
One thing that sets kayak anglers apart from other fishermen is their willingness to share information. That includes the bait they use, how they present it, where they fish (although not necessarily the exact holes!), and general tips that include tackle organization and securing things you may normally not think of to the boat if not in use.
The posting of tournament trails for the year are appearing on most kayak trails. It looks as though this year will have trails suited for anyone insofar as travel and expense goes.
So, if you are looking for great information and friendly folks willing to help answer practically any question you have check out the following sites on Face Book:
-Michigan Kayak Trail (MKT) is primarily devoted to tournaments and standings. However, they do welcome questions.
-Michigan Kayak Fishing (MKF) is the page that talks about kayak fishing itself, lots of how to's and mods.
Other trails include KBF or Kayak Bass Fishing, KATS and several that are out-of-state. KATS originated in Texas and was brought here in large part thanks to the efforts of Jeff Sherwood, Joe Colgrove and Summit Sports.
You will soon learn that fishing championships requires a certain number of points. These point can be gotten on the Michigan trails and others.
New to tournament fishing? We all were. It's fun, lots of camaraderie, and not a do die event similar to others. After all, it's first and foremost supposed to fun, a family event, and finally, a learning experience.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Happy paddling
Roger Beukema taking a break on one of Michigan's northern lakes. By Beukema
y information and if more family orientated. Before you invest money on a rod and reel, boat or anything associated with kayak fishing, check this page out. You'll find pro and con replies for everything from anchor rope to Zarra Spook topwater bates.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ice definitely not safe in southeast Michigan

Longtime fishing buddy and Waterford resident Glen Uhl prowls many of Oakland County lakes year round.
For Uhl, ice fishing is something to be looked forward to. Cass Lake and it's surrounding waters like Gerundegut Bay are areas he likes to fish.
Sunday he headed out from Dodge Park. Along the way he encountered a long angler. The two talked for a moment.
As Uhl headed out, the other man followed him onto Gerundegut Bay. Uhl warned the stranger to be careful as both sides of the bay didn't have good ice.
The two cut holes and began fishing. "A short time later, the old guy caught a ice bluegill. A little while later he loaded his stuff and began walking to shore," Uhl said, continuing to fish.
Several minutes went by when Uhl heard a commotion. Looking around, he saw this man had fallen through the ice.
"I headed over there with an auger for something he could grab onto. About the time I got there he got out of the water.
"I heard some more shouting behind me. When I turned around, three other guys were running toward us to help. One of them went through in deep water. He was pulled out with a rope one of his buddies was carrying," Uhl said.
"I'll see you Wednesday morning. We'll do some work and improvements to your fishing sled in my shop," Uhl said.
Fine with me so long as we weren't venturing out onto the ice. For those of you thinking of ice fishing, keep thinking about it, preferably from your recliner. Stay off the ice.
Bay City resident Don Luenberger with Shiver on the River winning walleye. By Beukema