Kayak Waterfowl Hunting


With the draw down of the kayak bass fishing tournament season comes a new season, waterfowl. While most outdoors men and women are focused in on deer hunting and preparing for ice fishing season here in the Northeast, there is still much more kayak fun to be had!

It was only a few short months ago that I was introduced to waterfowl hunting, and it has been a very exciting experience from the beginning! While fishing I find myself focused in on small events of my trip, a laid down log, Lilly pads, or a chunk of matted grass or weeds. Well, duck hunting is different. My very first morning I paddled across a rather shallow portion of the south end of one of the smaller Finger Lakes and set out my decoys in anticipation of low flying birds willing to commit to my spread. As I set patiently waiting for the big moon to set and the orange skies to lift, I couldn’t help but be taken in by nature’s beauty first hand. I didn’t fire my gun that morning but the scenery was worth all the while.

Kayaks offer the ability to get where most can’t by wading and others can’t by boat. It’s a perfect match for duck hunting. I utilize the NuCanoe Classic outfitted with their signature Duck Blind. The Classic has enough room to store your favorite shotgun, over 36 decoys, a bag lunch and drink and still sit comfortably for hours on end. The blind offers great concealment from all sides as well as good cover from the winds we so often encounter.

If you’re a duck hunter without a kayak, you’re missing out! If you are looking for additional water time in the later months when fishing tournaments have ended, look no further. Try your hand at waterfowl! Not only will you get more water time and scenic adventures but the bounty is a delicious incentive to the sport.

Meet our new Pro-Staffer John Petro

John Petro hunting for Smallies

I am from a small town off Lake Champlain in the Adirondacks. I started fishing at a young age and it has since been a passion of mine. I then began fishing bigger sized ponds around my house from an aluminum boat with my father and mother. As my passion grew for fishing I started going by myself, so that’s where the kayak fishing started. I then started to fish larger bodies of water like Lake Champlain. While fishing Champlain, there were always tournaments going on. I began fishing some boat tournaments on Champlain to start my tournament career. I recently moved to the Finger Lakes Region to continue my education at New York Chiropractic College. With NYCC being so close to Cayuga Lake, I had to find ways of fishing it with my car as transportation. Within days of being here I went and bought a kayak to fish. My passion for fishing and tournaments lead me to talking to people about some of the fishing tournaments in the area. That’s when I met Billy. He introduced me to the sport of tournament kayak bass fishing. Now Billy and I run the NYKBFC tournament series ourselves. He is the one who introduced me to Justin and Team Fuzzy Guppies. I really liked the idea of having a team for kayak fishing. Now to be a part of this team is huge honor! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Fuzzy Guppies and the sport of kayak fishing.

New Waters, New Lessons

It was a hot June day, and my family and I were headed to the Poconos for a family adventure  As luck would have it there was a www.kayak-anglers.com event about 25 minutes from where we had our vacation planned. I crossed the t’s and dotted I’s with my gear and required Pennsylvania permits and fishing licenses and off we went.

This was my first out of state fishing excursion since my Alaskan trip in 2004, I was overly thrilled to get in some new waterways! Persistent, I took a few hours to pre-fish Pecks Pond. I gathered all my research and loaded up the truck. Knowing that this was a shallow weedy lake, I tied on a hollow body frog and a few weightless worms as well as a 1oz punching jig.

Upon my arrival at first glance, I was ecstatic. Lilly pads, reeds, and thick vegetation was abundant. I finally get on the water and realized I was in trouble. I had accounted for a top water bite and my overall game plan was punching. That plan changed within a few hours. I had plenty of V-line explosions, most of which were pikeral. As I marked a few 6’ pockets on my GPS I came to realize that 98% of the pond was 2.5’ in depth. My 1oz jig flopped and laid across the top of the weeds in a sad motionless fashion.

Around 4pm, I was loading up my truck scratching my head and contemplating what I could besides become lucky and get a good early morning bite. On my way back to the hotel, I made a quick stop at a local gas station which happened to triple as a gun shop, bait and tackle and liquor store to grab a cold drink. I found myself in the bait and tackle section looking at top water baits that may separate myself from the standard frog baits I assumed most folks would be throwing. I pondered and pondered, suddenly I picked up my bait to throw.

I discovered during prefishing that the bass that were hitting were explosive but only on a hammer down fast retrieve. Purely an instinct bite. I found a Booyah Pond Magic Buzz in Grasshopper color, the color was the same as the frog I prefished  with that evening and pair it with a YUM Ganzo Grub and a beefy trailer hook.

Tournament Day:

I pulled in around 5:50 am to find the parking lot full, and folks still piling in. 21 anglers in total for the day. Quite an impressive turnout!! After our quick captains meeting I headed for the Jackson Coosa HD and off I went. We were about 5 minutes early before the first cast coukd touch the water. I hurried and got to the half way point of where I had marked the spots on my GPS.  I took a few casts and got nothing. I paddled another hundred yards or so and staged just off set of this island with big flat holders running off the side. I made a quick cast and just like a dream I was pulling a 14” bass through the sloppy mess. I was on the board and it was 7:07am. Good start!! From that point I moved directly to my marked spots. I caught a few small pikeral and moved to farthest point. Still nothing. It was about 8:45 and I was contemplating my complete game plan. Right about that time I was sitting in the center of Pecks Pond, only two other anglers within eyeshot. I took a big swig of water and as I was twisting the cap back on, I noticed panicking bait fish not far off. I paddled within “long cast” zone and through my buzzbait as far and hard as I could. It sunk down only to resurface moments later. Just a few feet later I watched as my second bass inhaled the buzzbait, flipping out of the water and the battle of the weeds and net began. I finally recovered it snapped three quick photos and sent her back on to live another day. I saw another flicker of baitfish, this time I let the buzzbait land right in the panicking school and before that buzzbait was on the retrieve I had another one on!! I found a quick pattern. The very next cast sent my buzzbait to the bottom of the lake.

 

Lessons learned

Buy two of everything, never get set in your ways on baits, and SOMETIMES impulse buys can pay dividends. I had never thrown a buzzbait until that morning. I now have a large order to place on what could be a new favorite bait of mine. Kayak tournaments can pull anglers well outside of their comfort zones and ultimately be the driving force behind new tactics and techniques.

Billy Pulsifer

Team Fuzzy Guppies

Big Water, Little Craft

Paddling on the lake

When you think of safety from the standpoint of a kayak angler, I’m sure the first things that come to mind are PFD’s, whistles, and safety flags. This article isn’t about that!

Safety doesn’t end at just equipment alone, though equipment is paramount to comfort and overall safety, but what warrants the use of that equipment?

Much like driving, others around you may not always be practicing safe boating. Bass boats, jet skis, pontoons, and other watercraft may not be practicing safe etiquette on the waters we share. Alcohol, mobile devices, and fish finders may have them fixated and not paying much attention to their surroundings. There are a few things you can do to help get their attention well before it’s to late. Whistle blasts, check with your state boating handbook to find the correct number of whistle blasts to get boaters attention. In addition to whistle blasts, you can also wave your kayak paddle simultaneously to make a larger profile. If you’re traveling a larger distance, you can hug the shoreline or stay just outside of the warning bouys.

 

Location

This is a big one for large waterways. Plan your route using maps, google, etc. Find identifying marks and bouys that will ensure you a safe and fun time on the water. Know your route inside and out so that you can get back to your launch pint safely! Many fish finders today are equipped with GPS navigation with the ability to create waypoints, routes, and even trails. If you cannot afford, or have no desire to invest in a fish finder, there are apps available to you on your smart phone, Navionics is a good one to invest in, it comes in a free version as well as a $10 more detailed version

Big water ways can often change at a moments notice, especially any coastal waterways as well as the Great Lakes region. Follow the weather, check it every few hours to ensure there isn’t going to be any surprises. Wind change in a kayak can often times make for seriously dangerous situation. Weather indicating thunderstorms is a surefire sign it’s time to seek shelter. In New York, it is required by law that if a boater becomes in immediate risk of life or vessel that an open slip on any individual or marinas dock will be made available to the “at risk”. Check with your local law enforcement to find out their laws on safe harbor.

Safety in our growing sport is paramount to the growth. As our industry becomes larger, more people are at risk of dangers in larger waterways. Be aware, be informed and continue to strive for the safest possible kayaking trip you can possibly take.

Safe trips, and tight lines!

Billy Pulsifer – Team Fuzzy Guppies Pro-Staff

Cold Water Bass Tactics

By: Billy Pulsifer of the Fuzzy Guppies Fishing Team

  Countless days of waiting for the ice on the lakes and rivers to finally melt down and move on into spring temperatures, it’s finally here. The morning temperatures are brisk, winter like even. I check the forecast to pick the best time to fish and not freeze halfway to death. Around 11am I’m finally unloading my kayak and getting on the water, the feeling is similar to meeting up with an old friend after several years.

  Hour one passes, then two, then three. “Where are all the fish?” Determined I drive forward in my quest. With the water in the upper 30′s here in New York, the bass typically hang in the deep channels waiting for that easy meal.

  A week passes and several frigid attempts to hook into a nice bass have evaded me. After that week something clicked in my mind. “Has the water warmed up enough?” Yes and no. When I finally found active fish the water temps were in the mid to upper 40′s. The main channels and open water areas were still much colder, but fish wouldn’t bite.

   The ticket was feeder creeks, run offs, and ditch culverts. At the mouths of these creeks, rivers, and ditch drains, the water temperature was significantly warmer. The bass were flocking to these areas in large numbers. Many still wouldn’t bat an eye at the bait I was throwing. I tried big chatter baits, spinner baits, crank baits; even the famous catch-all senko was unproductive.

 I needed to become creative, throw something that was wild, that they’d have to try. The result was a motor oil tube with red flake fixed Texas style to a wobble head jig. After a few casts I was hooking up relatively easy. Fishing the tube very slow with short deliberate pops.

  When bass do not cooperate in the early months leading up to spring, they may be hard to catch but not impossible. Finding them is 1/3 of the battle, the other 2/3 is figuring out how to make them hungry when they are not!