Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The minimalistic approach

As a kayak angler, I evolved to become somewhat of a minimalist with my gear. I tend to just carry one fly box, a lanyard with nipper, clamp, tippet and knife and of course, my fly rod. The less things I carry the less I have to lose. I have also attempted to attach what I can to my lanyard so it doesn't get lost and is close at hand.

This approach has also spread to the my EDC (Every Day Carry) items. Not long ago, I replaced my old leather wallet with an all plastic Jimi wallet. Since I really only have a couple of credit cards and a debit/check card and don't really carry paper money, this wallet suits me just fine. I really love this wallet and how it helps me identify what I really need and avoid clutter.

I always carry a pocket knife. I have a bad habit of biting my fingernails and without a knife I sometimes would not be able to open simple things. I have bought some nice folders made by Benchmade in the past few months. My current favorite being a Benchmade 525 Mini-Presidio. It is an essential tool.

I also carry a small LED task flashlight since my night vision isn't all that great and it also helps when walking around the house at night without having to turn on all the lights.

I used to have a keychain with eight or nine keys on it, most of which I didn't use. The ones I did were my truck key, mailbox key, house key and key to my office. Eventually, I ended up removing the mailbox key and simply keeping it on its own ring with a fob in the center console in my truck. I also removed the office key and placed it on my badge lanyard since it only needed it with me for work just like my badge. This left just my house key and truck key. Perfect.

One other thing that changed in recent years is that I don't wear a watch anymore. My phone has a clock display on it so that allowed me to eliminate one more item. In a month or two when I am able, I will be replacing my current flip phone with a slimmer and lighter Motorola Razr phone.

Recently, my wife started teaching me how to take paracord and create fobs and lanyards that I can use to attach to my stuff to make it easier to pull out of my pocket or attach to something so I don't lose them while on the water. I also come to appreciate making them and am thinking of making many more intricate ones that I can give away as presents.

Related to this new hobby of making lanyards from parachute cord, I ran across a fellow blogger who has a wonderful blog simply called Stormdrane's Blog that has some great photos of fobs and lanyards he has made as well as a lot of information about making them. I intend to learn how to make some of his cobra stitch lanyards.

I remember once at work, we had one motto that motivated us to create simple to use products which was "Simple - good; Complex - bad" and it feels good simplifying things. I think I will extend this motto to other things in my life.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Granite Shoals night fishing

Last night I went to fish the underwater lights of Lake LBJ in Granite Shoals about one hour west of where I live. I went with a fellow kayak angler and his 12 year old daughter.

Dennis had read some reports about white bass being caught there at night and was anxious to catch some of them. Since I had been there a couple of times before, I decided I would go and provide assistance with information about the area plus gets some night fishing.

I brought along my 4wt since I knew the bluegill sometimes get in a frenzy around the lights and some tend to get pretty big. I also brought my 5wt with a sinking like for any bass.

I was very impressed with Dennis' daughter. She is on her way to being a very experienced kayak angler. This was not her first nighttime fishing expedition. She and her dad have fished Lake Travis before at night and they were prepared with the required 360 degree light on their kayaks along with flashlights.

Once the sun had set and the underwater lights came on, we found only a half dozen lights on. Usually there are twice that many on in the cove we were in. Finally, we found one lone light on the deeper side of the lake that appeared to have some white bass.

We all caught some fish that night and had some good conversation as well. I probably landed 5 white bass and lost just as many. I also landed a nice largemouth that was around two pounds. In addition, I caught a dozen or so bluegill with several of them around 8 and 9 inches.

It was a nice night to be out fishing with friends. The wind was light which was good because this particular cove is not all that protected and can be difficult to fish in windy conditions.

Dennis and I discussed coming back in spring during the staging before the white bass run. We also discussed doing some fishing in Lake Travis since he lives along the lake and has access to several private parks that offer some prime launch spots to avoid too much paddling from where I normally launch. If I can, I may take him up on these offers.

After packing everything up to head out and driving through the neighborhood, we spotted a really fine buck. The neighborhood in Granite Shoals is literally infested with deer. Hopefully, in the spring the underwater lights will be infested with whites, too.

Monday, September 03, 2007


When I got back from fishing the lake in the morning, my youngest daughter asked me to take her fishing. So, after lunch my son, daughter and I went to the local park pond.

We brought along my daughter's Barbie rod and some small weighted plastic minnow lures.

The water was oily, likely from runoff from rains last night. We had a few bluegills chase the minnow but it was difficult fishing. We also found a lot of large crawfish bodies along the shoreline.

There is a walk bridge that separates a channel that leads from one pond to the other and we spotted some live crawfish on the intake side. So for the next 15 minutes my kids took turns trying to entice the crawfish to attack the lure. A few times the crawfish pinched the lure but as soon as it exited the water, it would let go.

They seemed to be having fun so I let them do that and then they later played on the tire swing at the park and then we headed home since the afternoon was pretty hot and humid even with the cloudy sky overhead.

It looks like my kids invented a new fishing sport; crawfishing.

Retro bass fishing

I really like fishing for largemouth bass but in the summer, it can be a little tougher to catch fish on the lake with fly fishing tackle. I reserve the fly tackle for night fishing where the target is lit and doesn't involve lots of casts to search for fish. I find I am also more successful when fishing rivers with fly tackle. Anyways, I thought I would go "retro" this morning.

So out came my seven foot medium action baitcasting tackle. My wife asked me when did I buy the rod since she hadn't seen it before. I told her I've had it for years except because I tend to now lean towards the fly rod, she just hasn't seen it in a long while. I got all the stuff together and took my 6wt with me for "backup".

I started off casting some medium diving crankbait plugs along ledges and also tried a hard plastic jerkbait and I had a couple of small bass chase it with one little one taking a nip at it right at the kayak but not hookups.

The water conditions were OK, clarity to maybe four feet which may be fine is some lakes but in Travis it should be better than that. Seeing as things were going fairly slow, I switched to a soft plastic worm, the trusty Gary Yamamoto 5" Senko in watermelon red rigged weightless Texas style on a 3/0 wide gap hook. Now I was ready!

The Senko is a magnificent lure. It has been my favorite soft plastic for bass fishing and also a very successful one. I've even tried some in saltwater for the heck of it though not enough times. The lure has a wiggle to it and a can be rigged to drop nose down or horizontal with that enticing wiggle or pulled through the water like a fluke jerkbait. Lots of possible techniques and riggings work wonders with this lure.

I was casting to a ledge in an area between diving platforms that I haven't ever really consider and as I was bringing the Senko back, out came a flash and hit that Senko hard! At first I thought it was a white bass from the flash but it turned out to be a nice largemouth!

I had almost forgotten how nice a good size largemouth can pull when it wants to dive deep. Really good feeling. The hook was right in the corner of the lower lip so the bass wasn't going anywhere. I finally lipped the bass and brought him in the kayak for a photo. It measured about 16 3/4 " long and weighed about 2 1/2 pounds. Nice!

I had one "tap tap" after that bass but no further hookups. With all the ski boats and jet skiers on the lake, I decided to leave at 10:30am.

If I get out to the lake again soon, I will try the Senko one more time for that "retro" feeling of catching bass on conventional tackle.