Wednesday, April 26, 2017

KBF National Championship Recap

Man things are finally starting to settle down again.  Even though KBF NC was a few weeks ago things are just now beginning to go back to normal, just in time to pack up and head to Michigan in a couple weeks...  Any ways the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship and Open was one heck of a good time! I got to meet so many new people and hang out with some great friends from my personal club, Kayak Bass League.  Plus I got to fish one of the best bass fishing lakes in the nation, Kentucky Lake.
Captains Meeting

In case of the odd chance that you have never heard of Ky Lake...this place is huge.  Just think to go from the North end of the lake to Paris, Tn (weigh in location) was over an hour and a half drive....definitely don't want to paddle that!  I spent a whole week down there hanging with friends and of course fishing!  While practice had its ups and downs, I was having a great time!  Throughout the week we had rain, hail, wind and sun causing the bite to be all over the place!  Going into the tournament I knew I would need to find a good area to compete with the best.

This is one big lake with a lot of water to cover!
Throughout practice I found many good shallow bite areas that seemed to vanish as soon as they appeared.  Being a river system, I knew the bite could change quickly based upon how much current was being created by the dam, but I had no idea how to counteract that.  After 4 days of finding a shallow bite and watching it disappear the next day, I went exploring.  I found a ramp on my lake map while driving through the country... side note don't try it, its super unsafe but I had no cell service and was super lost...  I found an area that looked good when I got there and by looked good I mean there was no one fishing it with white caps rolling straight into the cove, sounds promising right?  Well I gave it the good college try, finding a fish on the three secondary points I fished.  I knew I had found a diamond in the rough but I still didn't have confidence in the deep bite.

Being as stubborn as I am started at my go to shallow spot to find it was dink city.  I caught my limit within 30 minutes, all the fish being from 9-12.5 inches...that's not gonna win anything!  I fished it hard till around 11:30 until I realized I needed to do something different.  I hauled it back to the ramp and loaded faster than I had ever seen and sped off to my deep spot I had no confidence in.  I rolled up and got the yak in the water to realize the wind was even worse.  I pulled out my Kistler Mag 2 MH with a 1/4 oz homemade shakeyhead with a june trick worm and went to work.  Right away I got on em!  I was about to make a run.  With only about 2 hours to fish at my new spot I culled my 40ish inch limit into 83 inches.  I was on cloud 9 about day one!  Plus I had finally gained some confidence in fishing deep!
There are some big bass on KY Lake

I started day 2 at my deep cove and immediately started on my favorite secondary point.  I knew the weather was going to be windy and overcast till about 10 or 11, helping the deep bite, so I had to get to work quickly.  I caught my limit within the first two hours and went to work culling.  I finally started to find some nicer fish in the 18 inch range.  Unfortunately I did lose a nice one, around 20 inches.  As the wind died and the sun came out the deep bite died.  I went searching with a jerkbait but couldn't find anything to help me.  I ended day 2 with 84.75 inches.  I was very happy with this, especially since I hit my area very hard on day 1.

Next came the results from the weekend.  While I didn't cash any position away...I was very happy with my finish.  I ended the national championship in 41st out of 359 anglers and in the open I managed 34th out of 326 anglers.

This whole week was an amazing time.  I was honored to be able to fish in the National Championship and to even be on the playing field with the sports best! I learned a lot and gained valuable deep water fishing experience!

I also would like to say thank you to all the companies that support me.  Kistler Rods helped me feel those light bites in white cap conditions.  Pline's 17lb tactical fluorocarbon helped me keep those fish pinned in deep water.  My Smith Optics helped keep my eyes protected and helped me see the fish before they saw me when fishing shallow!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Plea - Pine River Safety

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor, nature and water
Photo By: Pine River Trails and Recreation
Pesticides, roadways, pastures, etc.  Though inevitable, runoff is a reality in our water ways.  I'm not a "hippie" or "tree hugger".  I drive a Jeep, love my guns (have a CCW and carry one in my kayak), and do not have a compost pile in my yard.  But I'm a realist that loves the outdoors.  Runoff happens in our society, a fact of the evolution of society.  As an avid outdoorsman, professional kayak fisherman (who fishes tournaments, owns an outfitting company, is a guide, and a mentor to up-and-coming kayak anglers), I understand the importance of preserving our waterways for future generations.

Let alone environmental issues, there are enough waterway issues to make your head spin.  Where do we start?  We start with responsibility and mitigation.  This includes picking up your own garbage, picking up garbage of others you encounter on the water, and respecting the body of water you are on.  The last item has become a concerning issue in my hometown of Richland Center, Wisconsin where jet skiers have begun frequenting this narrow river.    

I now reside in Spring Valley, WI (between Menomonie and River Falls) where we are blessed with similar amazing river systems which frequent numerous tourists every year.  A motorized pleasure craft on the Red Cedar River or Kinnickinnic river would be obscene (though motorized fishing boats frequent the river without issue).  These narrow rivers are a haven for numerous wildlife, one of which is trout.  Trout, a draw for tourism, are sensitive to environmental changes.  A group of dedicated people in the Richland Center, WI area have gone to great lengths to fix and maintain this habitat which is now in danger of getting reversed.  

When I tell people I kayak and grew up in Richland Center, the instantly say, "I've paddled the Kickapoo!  I loved it!".  I agree, the Kickapoo provides an amazing waterway for anglers, paddlers, swimmers, campers, etc.  But I never hear anything about the Pine.  They were finally starting to move the Pine in the right direction to get "on the map" as a paddling destination, jet skiers are now putting that at risk.

My parents own a large motorized boat, they used to have jet skis which I thoroughly enjoyed on numerous occasions.  But there is a place for pleasure craft.  That is on larger bodies of waters capable of handling the wakes and traffic.  Running a jet ski (or any motorized pleasure craft creating a wake) on a river as narrow as the Pine is reckless and irresponsible.  

Should someone encounter a canoe, kayak, tube, or any other watercraft around a blind corner there is a high risk for collision.  This is why any fishing boats I encounter on the Red Cedar River are motoring no-wake.  Peaceful coexistence.  Let alone the human safety issues, there is an ecological impact having pleasure craft on this small river.

I frequently fish the sloughs of the Mississippi in Nelson, WI.  This beautiful area is covered in countless acres of water, beautiful bluffs, and amazing wildlife.  It also houses an amazing fishery.  You'll find this area filled with a variety of craft: canoe, kayaks, jon boats, fishing boats, large bass boats, air boats, and even hover craft.  But even in this large area, the narrow spots of the sloughs are marked no-wake because of the ecological impact of wakes and fast-moving motorized craft.

The motorized craft in shallow, narrow areas stir up the dirt and cause major erosion in the channel.  The wake causes erosion on the shore.  Yes, the water naturally erodes the shoreline and channels, but motorized craft exponentially speed this process if proper caution is not given to the area.  Let alone the safety issues for the motorized craft running these areas at high speed.  This can cause significant damage to the watercraft and/or injury/death to those on it.

This is not about spoiling someone's fun.  Yes, I would love to run a jet ski on the Pine.  I thought it was funny the first time I heard of it happening (assuming it was an early season one-time deal to get things ready for the season).  But to allow this to continue is irresponsible.  Running any motorized craft on that river, other than at no-wake speeds, is like allowing ATV traffic on the Elroy-Sparta bike trails year-round. 

As an avid kayak angler and EMT trainee, I am deeply concerned with this activity which can either be made no-wake or taken to a larger body of water.  Watercraft do not have brakes and human-powered craft have limited maneuverability.  I don't want to hear of ANYONE (kayaker, canoer, tuber, boater, jet skier) being injured or killed because of these activities.

Thus, as a friend, family member, and native of Richland Center, I ask those partaking in the activity make it no-wake or move to larger water.  I ask paddlers to stay off the river until they do.  And I call on local DNR and law enforcement to do what is right and make this a no-wake area.  I can't imagine responding to an EMS call involving a collision on that small river.  And I can't imagine telling a family member they lost a loved one enjoying one of their favorite pass-times whether it be boating, kayaking, jet skiing, canoeing, tubing, or floating down a river with a cooler full of beer in arm floaties.

My friends, family, and community members in the Richland Center, WI area, please be safe.  I know and love some of the people partaking in the jet ski activities. I beg you, please move on from this.

Tyler Thiede
A Proud Richland Center Native