Sunday, February 28, 2016

February Kayak Fishing!

I've never seen this before; beautiful weather and open water in February here in New Brunswick!   Last year at this time you could have safely walked across sturgeon alley, or even driven across in snowmobiles, but this year the alley is wide open.    There were a few small blocks of ice slowly floating by, and the entrance to the Hammond was iced over, but the stretch of the Kennebacasis from Perry Point all the way up past the Hammond River was free and clear today.  

So with my honey-do list for the weekend complete, I packed up the Predator 13 and went out for a few short hours to try my luck with one of the other sturgeon fishing addicts in our local kayak fishing group.

It did not take long before we found a fish!    Only a few minutes after dropping anchor I hooked into and landed the first kayak fish of the year, a nice 41 inch sturgeon!    After snapping a picture for Kayak Wars, the first was released and I was off in search of another.    It took a while and several spots before I got my next hit, but then the action came much quicker!

I ended the day after catching 7, with 4 of them breaking the three foot mark.   My biggest was a very long and lean (guessing male) sturgeon coming in at a nice 47 inches.    The fish of the day however, and thus far, fish of the year goes to Tran who came out with me today. Tran, who is a relative newcomer to sturgeon fishing has landed some fantastic catches. This one may be his biggest yet!

Here is a little video I put together.    I assumed when I headed out that my GoPro's were full of juice, but they were a little low, so I didn't get a whole lot of video on the day, but I did get to play around with using 2 camera angles for the one fish.   I'll get better at video editing as I get a little more practice.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Shape up for fishing season

With fishing season around the corner is your weight or fitness going to hold you back?   If you are packing on some Winter weight, be wary, as you don't want to pull your back out, or take some other type of injury jumping back into the kayak expecting to pick up right where you left off in the Fall.

Yep, this used to be me!
Prior to getting married and having kids I had turned into a bit of a different type of gym rat. There was a time 13 years or so ago where I was benching 265 lbs for reps, my shoulders were massive and weight hovered around 220 lbs.   Jogging 10 kms back then was a piece of cake!   But those days are just memories now.  

As I approach my 40th birthday this summer I have a job that confines me to a desk with no mid-day exercise for 40+ hours a week.  My diet hasn't been great and I do enjoy a beer or rum most days.   As such my weight has slowly taken off again.

I have way too much weight on here
A month or so back I checked the scales and was surprised to see it was up to 260 lbs... far above where I'd want it to be. I also had been noticing lately that I haven't had as much energy as I'd like, my breathing would get laboured much quicker than it should, and I suspect my mood may have been getting affected as well.

So hoping to turn things around I hit the gym the next day with the goal of getting back down into the 220's by by birthday.   I've also cut out nearly all alcohol and am eating far smaller portions of much healthier food, along with about 3 gallons of water a day.

It as been close to a month and I'm down just over 10 lbs, my cardio is much much better, and I feel a much happier!    I still have several inches to go before I can think about fitting into a 34 waist like I used to, but I have worked myself back to being able to run 4 miles on the treadmill now in 40 min and step off feeling like there is more left in the tank!  

Unfortunately I discovered that my achilles heel in the quest to lose weight is my achilles heel.   Perhaps pushing myself a little too hard I irritated it on the treadmill about 2 weeks ago and it still isn't back to where I can run.   This is really crippling the great progress I had been making on the scales.   Fortunately I can do cardio on the elliptical machines, rower and bike but my best workouts came from running.

Kayak fishing is a fantastic way to get out into nature, get some exercise, and enjoy the best that the sport of fishing has to offer.   But it is difficult to really enjoy the sport if you can't paddle as far as you'd like, or load/unload your heavy kayak as easily as you once could.    If you are like me, and need to really work hard to keep your weight down and strength up, know that I am rooting for you!   Put the time in at the gym, go for walks or jogs, get our on a bike, or do other things that burn down a few calories.   Your body will thank you now, and again later when you do get the kayak out once again!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Check out Mantus Anchors for kayak fishing!

One of the most critical pieces of equipment that all kayak anglers need to have, especially those of us who frequent rivers, is a reliable kayak anchor.   Aside from the obvious, the ability to hold your kayak still in moving water or wind, there are a number of other factors you may want to consider when selecting your next kayak anchor.

One key attribute is the weight of your anchor.   No kayaker wants to be carrying around extra unnecessary weight in their kayak.    With more weight comes a larger displacement and lower ride in the water resulting in a slower and harder paddle.   A heavy anchor is also awkward to manipulate in the kayak and much harder to pull up from the bottom.

Also vital is the shape and function of the anchor, it hast to work when you need it!    Common anchors include using heavy objects such as gym weights, hook style anchors that fix onto rock or other objects on the water bed, and others dig into the ground when pulled.    Finding an anchor that will work in all conditions is sometimes difficult, especially if you want one that is not only functional but also lightweight!

With that in mind have a look into the Mantus Anchor!    Mantus makes several models of their revolutionary anchor with their small boat (dinghy/kayak) version weighing a mere 2.5 lbs!   There is both a stainless steel and galvanized version of the anchor available coming in at two very different price points.

So it is light weight, but will it work?   Well according to Laho Wind it will!   "In our opinion, mantus anchors is the best anchor company around! Over the last decade, tests performed by Cruising World, Practical Sailor, Sail and PMY magazines proved that new-generation type boat anchors outperform the traditional designs. Mantus anchors are designed to set in very hard or grassy bottoms. No other boat anchor on the market can set as rapidly, reliably, and securely."

Mantus has several videos on their website showing how their anchor digs into many types of water floor including sand or even dense grass which we have lots of around here.

I'll be getting my Mantus Anchor in time for Spring Sturgeon fishing.   I anticipate it will be an ideal anchor in that fast moving water with a sandy bottom, digging in and holding me firm while fishing for dinos!    Finally I'll be able to leave those bulky 10 lb gym weights in the garage!

Also check out the Mantus snap on light intended to be fixed onto rails.   I'm going to get one of these to try out on my kayak paddle.   It is small enough to not be in the way, and will be useful for a little extra light while night fishing, or perhaps set up around a campsite on my paddle.    One of the very cool features of this light is a USB out port so that you can use it to recharge your mobile devices!  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New on the market: Berkley's Fusion 19 Hooks

Any experienced fisherman will tell you one of the most critical factors in having a successful outing on the water is the quality of your hooks.   Losing a trophy fish because a hook didn't set properly, bent or broke off is an experience we have all had.   To give yourself the best chance of avoiding heartache, you want the strongest, sharpest hooks you can get your hands on.

Berkley introduced their series of bass fishing hooks at ICast in 2015 (which I attended!).   After examining many of the best hooks on the market, they came up with an improvement over other brands through the introduction of their own 'SLICKSET' coating.  Combined with high carbon steel the SLICKSET coating greatly increases the durability of their extremely sharp hooks over other brands so they they stand up much longer in the toughest of fishing conditions.

The Fusion series currently offers 9 hooks for all of the most common bass fishing techniques.  There are drop shot hooks, swimbait hooks and even weedless wacky rig hooks.    I love using the weedless wacky hooks for my kids as they are able to use them with worm and throw them into weeds, often catching perch, sunfish and pickerel without any assistance from me to de-weed their lines.    The swimbait hooks come standard with spirals to keep your soft plastics in place..   All Fusion 19 hooks come in re-sealable packages and come with guides helping anglers choose the best presentation options for their lures.

These hooks are ideal for many of the fish we have in our area.   Pickerel, smallmouth are obvious fish to target.    I plan to try out the heavy cover hooks which range in size from 6/0 to 3/0 while sturgeon fishing as they will have plenty of backbone for fighting those 4 foot dinos!

To get your Berkley Fusion 19 hooks in the Greater Saint John area, visit Doirons Sports Excellence!   Doiron's have these and a ton of other great tackle options from Berkley in stock now!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A strange, mild Winter

The Winter of 2014-2015 was absolutely brutal as the snow and ice stated in late November, melted off around Christmas, and then things got cold again around the New Year.  From there on till mid April we endured record levels of snow and daily temperatures well below the freezing mark.   It was a Winter that felt like it would never end.   The ice on the Kennebacasis was about 2 feet thick, even out in the deep water, making the task of drilling holes for ice fishing a daunting task.

Norton Shore Road, adjacent to the Kennebecasis River
This year however things are quite different.   More often than not it seems we are enjoying temperatures above the freezing level.   The snowfall has been minimal and there have been many days like today where a stroll down the street requires no more than a light jacket, ball cap and sunglasses.   Really this has been the mildest winter I can ever remember here in Eastern Canada!

For ice fisherman this isn't a good thing.   Folk looking to set up their shacks for smelt had to wait till after the New Year to get out on the ice, and then with one of many rounds of mild weather, several shacks in a few different areas fell through the ice.   This past week again, we had temperatures so mild, thick fog blanketed our town as the ice and snow dissolved away.   I haven't heard if any shacks went through the ice again last week, but I wouldn't be surprised if a few did.

What does all this mean for us kayak anglers?   Well with the ice easily 15 inches thinner than it was this time last year, I would expect to witness a much earlier break up in the rivers.   We may be able to have the kayaks in the water come late March if the mild temperatures continue!   

Rowan catching a feed of smelt
While I enjoy getting my kids out on the ice to catch a feed of smelt as much as the next guy, I really do miss getting out for a paddle chasing sturgeon, stripers, pickerel and more around our lakes and rivers.   Having a lot of Facebook friends in the southern part of the U.S. and other countries continuously posting pictures of their catches from kayak doesn't help!  

So here's to the sun and the mild temperatures!   Lets get the next 6 - 8 weeks over with so that we can get back on the water!