Kayaks keep fishing as other options dry up

Posted Saturday, Aug. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The orange cones blocking access to the boat ramp at Lake Mineral Wells were an unexpected disappointment to a pair of anglers who arrived with their bass boat at daybreak one day last week, but the cones had little effect on Rob Milam’s plans to cruise across the lake in search of largemouth bass.

The two anglers who had not realized the ramp was closed because of low water quickly changed their plans and headed for Possum Kingdom Lake a few miles away, while Milam and I loaded our tackle into a pair of Hobie kayaks. Three other anglers soon arrived with kayaks and a flat-bottom boat.

This year’s low-water levels have closed ramps across the state, disappointing anglers with outboard motors. But they have had little effect on anglers such as Milam, with his low-profile, lightweight small kayaks propelled by leg muscle.

Milam, a member of the Hobie Texas Kayak Team, which has hosted numerous kayak fishing tournaments along the Texas coast, quickly initiated his morning’s plans to catch bass at the Mineral Wells State Park lake by pointing to an island not far from the closed boat ramp.

Within minutes we were casting top-water lures as an occasional bass chased shad to the surface nearby. A few small bass were hooked on our lures within the next hour under the cool morning clouds, but once the action slowed under a growing sun we switched to plastic worms.

Once we reached a deep-sided bank, Milam chose a Carolina-rigged soft plastic worm and made a short cast toward the bank. Within seconds after his lure hit down, Milam set the hook and a 6-pound largemouth bass came through the surface, sending a silvery blanket of water in all directions as it tried to free itself from Milam’s hook.

Milam had no trouble getting his hands on the fish from the shallow-draft kayak.

I have traveled many miles across waters in small crafts over the years, including a 32-day, 232-mile excursion in a canoe with a friend down the Clear Fork of the Brazos River from Abilene to Possum Kingdom Lake a few years ago. But if I were to choose a single craft for shallow-water traveling and fishing rivers and small waters it would be a kayak, especially one like the 13.8-foot long Hobie Pro Angler 14, which is maneuvered by a person’s feet on pedals.

When trying to determine which small craft is best for you, choose one that fits your comfort needs, has room for storage and is light enough for you to handle by yourself. Also look for a structure rugged and stable enough to stand while fishing.

Because small crafts are low profile, using them in areas with traffic from larger boats whose operators may have difficulty seeing you requires extra caution and planning on where you intend to use them to ensure a safe outing.

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