Posted by: Cactus Yak | May 26, 2009

Never Give Up…

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe

My fellow yakker, Kris, shared this quote with me this morning. He felt it offered some interesting perspective on the way to approach fishing. I thought about it awhile and decided I didn’t like that perspective. I prefer to preserve my efforts until I know the tides are turning. It just seems more logical. Check out the tidal predictions and go and get them. 

Along the topic of tides, I’ve recently had a few conversations with an individual named Chaz on the Texas Kayak Fishing Forum. He’s shared some really good tips on fishing the Port O’Connor area. Looking at other posts in the forum, I came across some other good advice he offered another member. The following are some basic tips from Chaz for the newbie saltwater angler:

– if whatever you’re doing isn’t working – try something else until you get a hit.
– look for moving water around oyster bars and cast around the downstream side.
– it’s better to cast upcurrent and bring the bait back toward you than to cast downcurrent and work the bait against the current – bait doesn’t go against the current and it looks un-natural.
– work the shorelines – cast parallel along the grass lines and especially points.
– learn the bottom structure and work the drop-offs – fish will hang in slightly deeper water later in the day
– if you see bait working, stick around and cast all around that bait.
– keep moving until you start getting hits.
– if you see bait getting chased, cast around there for a while.
– especially around here, learn to look for reds in the grass. Look for fins or backs sticking out of the water or grass moving around.
– work that bait – change the pace of the retrieve – slow or fast or faster – bump the bottom – let it hang. This goes if you are throwing plastics. If you’re throwing live shrimp, keep it moving too but not as hard – shrimp are the most fragile life forms in the universe.
– if you’re going to use live bait, your mission is to get the bait from the bait store to the water in the best condition possible. Use a bubbler for live bait to keep them lively. Put them in a trolling bait bucket and be sure to push the whole bait bucket under water occasionally so the bucket doesn’t get too hot.
– if you have a keeper fish, don’t unhook it until you have it on your stringer.
– be sure to have a good net with you.

Thanks, Chaz.

Posted by: Cactus Yak | May 16, 2009

My Favorite Fishing Knot

I know everyone has their preferences, but my favorite fishing knot is the Uniknot. It gets it’s name from the fact that you learn to tie this one knot and that’s about all you need to know. You can do line to terminal tackle connections, snell a hook with it, do line to line connections and more. It’s extremely strong. I’ve personally had wire leaders fail me before this knot. In fact… I can’t remember a time that this knot has failed me. Here’s a short video on how to tie it. 

Posted by: Cactus Yak | May 11, 2009

Check Out the Premier Issue of austinpaddler

Lakeline Watersports has published the premier issue of  austinpaddler, a publication designed to promote and educate its readers about the joys of paddlesports in the Central Texas area. The inaugural issue is currently available online and features some basics in chossing your kayak and accessories. It also includes a map of Lady Bird Lake with kayak access points.  

I am uncertain of the planned frequency of this publication, but the overview conveys that future issues of austinpaddler will  include feature articles, reviews, maps, photo journals, trip reports and more. For more information, you can visit

Posted by: Cactus Yak | May 8, 2009

Learn To Add A Fish Finder To Your Kayak

I’ve been thinking about adding a fish finder to my kayak. In doing a little research, I came across this good video on how to install one yourself. Enjoy!


Posted by: Cactus Yak | May 8, 2009

Hooked On A Tarpon

I currently own a 2006 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 and I love it. I didn’t think a better yak could be made… until now. With the introduction of the 2009 Tarpon line, Wilderness Systems has completely outpaced the competition.

I haven’t had a chance to paddle one yet — I’m still waiting on Wilderness Systems to sponsor me or make a tester 🙂 — but I did get to sit in one at Austin Canoe & Kayak. Through my own limited experience, Im here to tell you why this kayak is so great compared to previous Tarpons and other yaks in general. For starters, the bow. WS gave the bow a little more rise to cut through the chop and create a drier ride. Though I don’t care about getting wet, I can tell you that i’ve had some wet rides in my current Tarpon. Hey, small price to pay for a fast, low profile paddle. WS also updated the bow hatch. It holds firm and latches which is nice. Personally, I never had issues with the old ones.

The cockpit, oh, the cockpit. WS created more cockpit space in the 2009 version by removing surface space behind the seat. My tarpon has a small hatch there. I really don’t use it much, so I know I wouldn’t miss it. The plus is that you have more space in the cockpit with some nice features. If you look in the console area, you can see they added a larger center hatch and some mesh covered gear stowage. Sweet! It’s also flat versus the hump in previous versions. I’m not one to complain, but after a couple hours of sitting side-saddle in my yak… my back starts to hurt a little from the akwardness of an inclined ass.

What I also like in the cockpit is the addition of the accessory rails. With these two rails, you have a lot of flexibilty to outfit your yak. My mind immediately jumped to some movable hooks that could work like an anchor trolley. I’ve been reluctant to add one on mine. Of course you could set up rod holders and adjust them as needed. I think you can just let your imagination wander. Oh, the seat. Comfy as hell. No other yak has a finer cockpit for the kayak angler.

In the tankwell, WS made one small visible change. They made it more spherical, which adjusts the widest portion of the tankwell back a few inches. It looks like it can still hold a crate for additional gear. The advantage that I see here is that I would get to flip flop my crate and beer cooler, putting the beer closer to me. Thanks WS. You really do know your kayak anglers.


Posted by: Cactus Yak | August 4, 2008

Ladyfish = Skipjack

On a recent fishing trip to Dewberry Bay, Kris hooked and landed a ladyfish. He joked that it was a baby tarpon as he was reeling it in. As I was too busy fishing to watch him land it, I later asked him if indeed it was a baby tarpon  He said “No. It was a ladyfish.” I replied… “Oh, a skipjack.” He then proceeded to tell me they were not one in the same. I didn’t agree having learned my fish identification from a trusted fishing guide, so I did some research.

The Florida Museum of Natural History has one of the best overviews on the species. Although the common name is “ladyfish”. Other names include “skipjack”.

As I was researching it, I started to understand Kris’ confusion on the topic. NOAA maintains a list of Atlantic and Gulf Coast fish names. There are actually 3 species of fish that are commonly called “skipjacks”. They are:

  2. Ladyfish – ELOPS SAURUS
  3. Skipjack Tuna – KATSUWONUS PELAMIS

Regardless of what you call it they are a lot of fun to catch. As Kris’ hinted while he was landing it, they are related to the tarpon. They dance on the water and put up one helluva fight.

Posted by: Cactus Yak | July 29, 2008

I Got the Dewberry Blues

What can I say? Sometimes it’s on… and somtimes it’s not. Kris and I took the yaks down to POC last Friday. Based on an article I found about fishing the Dewberry/Shoalwater Bay area, Kris and I figured we’d launch at Charlie’s Bait Camp and give it a go.

We launched and took Alcoa Cut out to Dewberry Island. We opted to fish the south shoreline all the way to the first cut we came to. We didn’t have much luck. Once we arrived at the cut, we anchored up and soon found that we were on a nice preschool of reds, which is to say they were all just a little undersized. I think, in total, Kris and I landed 6 or 7 that were in the 17 to 19″ range. They were a lot of fun to catch, but a couple of keepers would’ve been nice. I did get one, pictured below.


After the fishing started to slow in the cut, we moved out to the Espiritu Santo side of the island and proceeded to wade the area. NADA! With the day dragging on and our beer almost gone, I started the long paddle back. WOW! I need to get in shape. I arrived back at Charlie’s expecting Kris to be far behind, but lo and behold… Kris made his turn into the intracoastal about the time I landed at shore. I cursed him, “Son of a @#$%$”. Kris frickin’ Poppins! I need to start taking an umbrella.

All in all, we got a few, but it was a lot of work to do it. I plan to stick a little closer to Alcoa Cut next time we fish the area.

Posted by: Cactus Yak | June 26, 2008

Malibu X 13 – The Ultimate Fishing Machine?

My girlfriend recently expressed some interest in joining me on a kayak fishing excursion or two. Gotta’ love a girl who wants to fish. At any rate, it got me thinking about another kayak. Not being one for specs, she noted her specific desire to get one that was lime green – her favorite color. Lime green? Who makes a lime green kayak?

The first company that came to mind was Malibu Kayaks. I remembered visiting their Web site awhile back and noting some of the vibrant color options available for their kayaks. I was more than pleased with what I found. Not only did they offer lime green kayaks, but they have it available for their new Malibu X-13. I wasn’t familiar with that model as it is new this year, but I liked what I saw and started to dig into it.  Click on the thumbnail image below to view some of the specs and options.

I did a little research online and found a couple of good reviews. You can view them below:


I deciced to go see this thing up close. I ran over to Austin Canoe & Kayak during lunch and luckily they had one in stock. It was really impressive. I think Malibu brought some nice innovations to market. I especially liked the bow hatch, which could function as a live well, gear or rod storage, and more. The tankwell was huge. It could easily hold a crate and a large cooler. The center hatch with cat bag was also large and seemed really accessible.

I asked about any upcoming demo days because I really want to try this thing on the water. Unfortunately, I’m gonna have to wait till fall. After considering the possibilities with this thing, it got me thinking that this could be the ultimate fishing machine. To answer that question any time soon, I’m gonna have to buy one and then figure out how to convince my girlfriend to let me take it out.

Posted by: Cactus Yak | June 25, 2008

The Day I Got Hooked

I talk about bay fishing whenever I can. All of my work colleagues can attest to that. Throughout the years, I have introduced a number of them to the joys of bay fishing, including Kris. I consider it a pay-it-forward mentality as it was another colleague who introduced me to the sport 8 or 9 years ago.

Just this past week, I’ve had a number of coworkers ask me about bay fishing. Where to go? To fish with a guide or not? I always tell them the same thing. Head to POC and contact a guide named John Fivecoat. I haven’t fished with another guide in all my years, nor would I want to. It’s not that I don’t think that other guides are as good as Fivecoat. I’ve had some mediocre outings with him. I’m just partial to him for giving the best fishing day of my life.

I’ll try to be brief with the rest of this post and just share the pictures with a few comments. It was my second trip with Fivecoat. Henry and I joined another friend, Brad Cook, for a day of fishing. In typical fashion, we put our fair share of beer away the night before. Nevertheless, we met Fivecoat at Froggies Bait Dock at 6 am. Given our state of mind, I think we need to start calling it “Groggies”. Like my first trip with Fivecoat, we went straight up the Powderhorn Ranch shoreline to start with some wade fishing. 

We made a killing! We had 37 trout before 11am. My first limit. The fishing had slowed, so Fivecoat asked us if we wanted to go find a couple more trout or if we’d rather catch some bull reds. We all chose the big sows. We went out to the POC jetties and anchored up. After a spectacular morning, we all popped open a beer while Fivecoat rigged up the boat rods. It wasn’t long after getting the first one in the water, that the thing bent down to touch the surface of the water. Brad jumped on it. 

Nice bull red! Brad felt he hadn’t posed properly in the pic, so he made a slight adjustment for another. Can you see the difference?

Yes… he hiked up a sleeve to get the guns in there. That’s Brad. Henry jumped on the next and pulled in a nice one too. It was a hair smaller than Brad’s tagged fish, so he threw it back.

I got the next one, which was perhaps the prettiest red you’ll ever see. It edged Brad’s out in length, so I kept it. Sorry, no action pics are available. My cohorts were too busy drinking beer. You’ll see it soon. It wasn’t long before Henry was back on the crank. He pulled in the bigun’.

When all was saind and done, we had 37 trout and each tagged a bull red. One helluva day. Here are a few pics at the trip’s end. 

Well, that’s the day I got hooked. I haven’t had another like it, but I’m hopeful that one will come along soon.

Posted by: Cactus Yak | June 23, 2008

Live Well Options for Kayakers

For some time now, my fellow “blanglers” and I have chosen to fish live shrimp on our kayak outings. To keep the shrimp jumping, we have employed 5-gallon buckets outfit with bait aerators like the ones displayed above. We usually stow the bucket in our tankwell inside our milk crate. These aerators are great at the onset. They keep the shrimp lively nearly all day. The one drawback is that they don’t handle the elements while aboard a kayak. Despite being positioning as “water-resistant,” I have found they really don’t hold up well. Even with thorough cleaning and drying afterwards, mine usually crap out on me after a trip or two.

In order to stop repurchasing an aerator every trip or two, I’ve been looking into some alternatives. I recently came across the Shimano Live Well Bag pictured below.

It’s a little costly at roughly $200, but I think it would save me some money in the long run. It is a waterproof, soft-sided bag much like the popular coolers of today. It uses a 12 V battery to pump saltwater through an intake system that hangs over the side of your kayak. It also features a waterproof switch and rod holders. I haven’t seen many reviews on this bag yet, but I’m hoping to get some user feedback before I decide to invest in this thing.

A slightly cheaper option is to go with the Hook 1 Live Well. It is a similar setup using a hard-sided cooler.

Another alternative for the cost conscious angler is to build one yourself. Read this article on how to do it.

All-in-all, there are a lot of options for keeping bait alive on your kayak, but the cheapest solution is to just fish lures. At $15 bucks a pop for shrimp these days, you can’t beat the savings of going with many of the effective lure options available today.  

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