Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Original Slider Review

I’ve always wished I were more flexible. I’m not talking about mental or moral flexibility and my personal relationships are all pretty good. I’m talking about good ol fashioned stretchability. I’d like to be able to touch my toes, or maybe sit cross-legged on the floor and play spades with my kids. Nope, flexible I aint. Some of you may recall my post on the TKAA Order of the Turtle board. If you don’t that’s ok, read on.

My yak is a Wilderness System 160i and I really like it. The only problem I’ve had with it is reaching forward to my rod holder, or backward to my crate. It’s a long way to stretch, and like I said... I don’t stretch. I’ve tried a couple of different remedies over the years to help me reach my rod easier, but none have worked (stop snickerin… you know what I mean).  Anyway, I purchased a rod holder extender a couple of years ago and it helped, but it didn’t solve the other problem. Reaching back to get something out of my crate remained difficult. Basically, I can reach inside my crate and fumble around, but I can’t turn far enough around to get at everything without some pain and loud cracking up and down my back. No big deal really, I just hang both legs over the side of the yak and get what I need. Still, I’ve always thought it would be nice to have easier access to my gear. Last Fall I tried to reach something in my crate and the result was a nice new Order of the Turtle sticker for my yak. For those of you who don’t know what that is, visit the TKAA website and you’ll see the link somewhere down the page. So, I’ve been looking for a way to deal with my nonstretchiness for a while now. Last winter I spoke with Patrick at about his Original Slider. He sent me one out to try and I’ve been fishing with it ever since. I think it’s the remedy I’ve been searching for. It allows me to reach my gear easily because it’s all stored in front of me. My crate is now used mainly for my anchor, lunch (sometimes one in the same), water, and other sundry items I like to carry around when I fish. The Slider holds all of my accessories, including two Ram rod mounts, a camera mount, and my fish finder. It only required two holes to be drilled in my yak. Most importantly for me, it slides. I can easily adjust its position forward or back by simply releasing a cam lever and sliding it. It doesn’t interfere with my ability to get in or out of my yak and it’s rugged and light weight. I’ve been fishing with it now for several months and it’s become permanent part of my kayak rigging. If you like to troll all you do is position your rods and adjust the Slider to your liking and start paddling. I like using bait, so what I usually do is back my yak into I nice, reedy shoreline,  rig up two rods, position my Slider so it’s up close in my lap and wait for the fish to come to me. When the strike happens, all I have to do is reach up and take the rod.

I haven’t really found a down side to the Slider. Wind doesn't seem to be a factor with it, even when positioned all the way forward. Some adjustments have to be made when I paddle so I don’t hit the rod holders, but that’s really not a big deal to me. All I do is release the cam lever and push it forward a few inches. Problem solved.  If you’re like me (as flexible as a 2x4), you should check the Slider out for yourself at 

Tight lines!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The day started off windy and the forecast called for it to continue all day. The wind was out of the SW around 15 to 20 knots, but around 11am there was a little lull as the winds calmed, so we fished for a little while. The moon was full and the tide seemed to be running higher than was the norm. This was the first time I’d fished with my father-in-law, Jeep,  since last summer. He's a true 'ol salt who'd rather fish than eat.  Between the two of us we usually manage a few keepers. Today, however, fishing was tough. We headed out at the top of high tide (11AM) and worked down to the mouth of Occohannock Creek. The current was strong as we worked our way out to buoy 13. I had a bucket full of bullheads I'd trapped the night before. I planned on using them with squid strips on a fish finder rig. Jeep was using a high-low rig with bullheads on one rod, and tossing a 4” gulp with the other. After his first or second drift, he hooked and landed a nice 18.5 inch flattie on the gulp. I missed two and ended up with skunk all over my yak. I think Jeep missed one on his high/low rig as we worked our way back up the creek hoping to escape the wind and find the bite again. Unfortunately, we never found it. By 1:30  the wind had returned with new determination, so we paddled back to the dock. Nice to see the flounder this far up in the bay. Looking forward to catching a few.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gullwing Paddle Review #3

I fished for 7 hours last Sunday on the Pagan river.  The Gullwing balanced perfectly on my lap while I worked my lines. This is a very comfortable paddle to use. I noticed when I tried to really dig in with the blades, it seemed to want to roll a little in my hands. I suspect this is more a function of my paddling technique than anything else. I was able to generate plenty of speed with only moderate amounts of effort. More importantly, after 7 hours on the water I am happy to report that I experienced no elbow or shoulder pain.  Stay tuned, more to come.

Pagan River Blues

The plan had been to head over to Kiptopeake early Sunday morning and spend the day toggin. It’s no secrete that the tog bite is hot during the spring, and I had been reading reports all week about good numbers being taken, so I packed up my gear Thursday evening in anticipation of a Sunday tog trip. What is it they say about the best laid plans? Well, one thing led to another and to another and slowly it became apparent that this kid wouldn’t be doin’ any toggin’ on Sunday. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches is life. Well, at the last minute Ken Cussick and I decided to try a local spot we’ve wanted to hit for about a year now. This area is known for hardheads (croaker) and blue cats. We decided to try for some cats. Last time we did this was March 2010 up in Surry, Virginia on Chippoakes creek. We didn’t catch any blue cats, but we did managage  to spend a nice, sunny but cold day on the water. Anyway, we launched our yaks and headed downstream to the bridge. We worked the bridge area with cutbait for a couple of hours with only two or three hits. The tide was outgoing, but as it changed we moved back up stream to try our luck in some shallower water. Some anglers seem to have an aversion to bait fishing and I’m not sure why, but I don’t share that sentiment.... well... unless I’m LM bass fishing... but that’s a whole different mindset.  So we paddled upstream a little distance and backed our yaks into some reeds on the inside of  an little bend in the creek, baited up with some fresh cuts of shad and put out our lines. I grew up on this kind of fishing and I really love it. My dad would take me and we’d sit up our lines on the bank of some muddy creek and catch croaker in the summer and specks in the winter. He was an expert at catching bait and I swear he could find a fish in raindrop. Brings back memories.  Well, after about 15 minutes I decided to try some positive thinking to get some good luck flowing down our way and get this catfish bite going. So I started talking about hush puppies and how good they were going to taste with the fresh fried catfish I planned to have for dinner. Wasn’t sure Ken could hear me... he was down the shoreline a few yards, so I talked a little louder as I watched an eagle try to rob an osprey overhead. I was just about to get into the philosophy behind properly prepared sweet tea when my reel went off. After a short battle I landed a nice 20” blue cat. From that point the bite was on for the rest of the afternoon... not a blazing hot bite, but a steady one that was good enough for me. We fished for about 7 hours and between the two of us caught over 20 blues. By the end of the day I had a stringer full of blues ranging from 22” down to about 12”. Got home, skinned em and fried em up for Sunday dinner with the family. Does it get any better than this? It was a great day on the water, one I hope to repeat very soon. 

Note: I should be set up to photograph my catches soon. Unfortunately, without the help of a camera mount, I am not coordinated enough to hold the fish and take the pic without dropping either the fish, the camera, or both. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fishing with the Gullwing #2

Fishing with the Gullwing #2
Like I mentioned in my last post, my current paddle is an AT and I’ve used it for a few years now. My stroke probably isn’t the most efficient one out there, but it gets me where I’m going. When I paddle, I try to bury my blade in the water with each stroke, but this requires me to lift my other hand pretty high in the air and I tend to get wet. The Gullwing blades are easier to bury without raising your other hand way over your head. This, I think,  is because of its gullwing shape and the angle of the blade.  This paddle seems very efficient and it keeps me a little drier than my other paddles. It sort of glides you along; it's really stealthy.  Paddling usually causes me pain. I have tendinitis in both elbows and I separated my shoulder a few years ago in a mountain bike accident… and I’m getting older too.  My “bows” and shoulder tend to throb after a couple of hours in the yak, but I’m used to it. I keep a good supply of ibuprofen in my tackle box because I refuse to not fish. To give up kayak fishing is unthinkable. I didn’t experience any elbow or shoulder pain after my time on the water today, so the ibuprofen never left my tackle box. After about 3 hours on the water, I returned to the ramp to load my gear and head for home. This was what I call maintenance fishing and it’s more for the soul than anything else.  I did manage to put one decent largemouth bass in the yak. He was released unharmed. Nice to get a little pullage after a long, cold winter.  I look forward to my next trip with this paddle. If all goes well, maybe I can leave the ibuprofen at home.

Gullwing Paddle Review #1

Description and Assembly Notes
My first impression of the Gullwing reminded me of those really cool Corsairs flown by the Black Sheep Squadron on that 1970s televison show Baa Baa Black Sheep. For those who are too young to recall the antics of Pappy Boyington and his squadron of misfit fighter pilots, treat yourself to a google search.... really great stuff. The Gullwing paddle is the first ergonomically designed kayak paddle with a unique gullwing shape. Remember those WWII Corsairs, well.... add a couple of black nylon/fiberglass blades to the ends and you’ve basically got a kayak paddle with the spirit of world class fighter plane. The paddle has a one-piece curved bar. Just insert the paddle blades and start stroking. Breakdown is a snap and storage shouldn’t be an issue. The bar is about 54 inches long without the blades, so it fits into my truck bed without any problems. Depending on what you drive, you may need to think about how you’ll transport it, but it really isn’t a big issue. The Gullwing comes with two black comfort grips that give it a nice, balanced feel.   Only two lengths are available at this time: 215cm and  230cm. The lightweight aluminum bar is painted battleship grey and it has a textured matt-like finish and a reflective strip. The weight of this paddle checks in a 2 pounds 9 7/8 oz according to my scales. I thought this was heavy, then I checked my AT and it topped out at 2 pounds 10 ¼ oz. I couldn’t believe my AT weighed this much, but then again, I never checked it. Out of curiosity, I weighed my wife’s Werner. It came in at 1 pound 13 oz…. but that weight savings came with a heavy price.  Check out the Gullwing at