Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story ran as a Tip of the Week. Kayak Fish is running it again to give recognition to Jeff Little’s catch of a 6-10 smallmouth from his kayak in our Biggest “hits” of 2015 feature on the Kayak Fish Facebook Page.
Saving Energy for the Cold Water Angler
By Jeff Little
The rain that caused the river to rise so quickly couldn't have come at a better time. Rising rivers mean that big fish actively feed. The peak of that rise came at about 10:30 a.m., the morning of the tournament.
I caught two smallmouth over 20 inches from an 8-foot-wide eddy at the base of a major ledge rapid, and had the third one in my net. That fish had smashed a spinnerbait about 10 feet from my anchored kayak and pulled enough drag that I wondered if it was a musky instead of a bass.
Once the fish was securely netted, I placed the 6-lb 10-oz bronze fish on the Hawg Trough. My phone was conveniently secured in my life vest pocket. I pulled it out to take the photo and upload it to the online tournament application. Tapping the camera app forcefully with cold wet fingers, the white round shutter button failed to respond. I tapped harder to no avail, then attempted to dry my fingers on the hood of my fleece sweatshirt.
With my fingers dry enough to be recognized by a touch screen, my index finger went back to work trying to take the shot before the fish flopped off the board. I had a brief enough glimpse of a low battery message before the screen went black. The phone was dead.
Fortunately, I had a back up camera to take the shot, but that would mean that I would have to get back to the weigh in much earlier than if I could upload the photo with my phone and keep fishing. The weigh in time for SD cards was actually a half-hour earlier than online weights and I didn't want to give up 30 minutes of fishing time on tournament day.
I decided to Boca Grip the fish, put it back into the water to let it breathe, and try to warm up my phone. I shoved it down the collar of my spray top and placed it firmly in my armpit. That's not a nice sensation, but it was effective. Within five minutes, I tried again, and found that my battery had come back to life, but only with 16% of the charge remaining. I took the shot with the phone and the regular camera, released the fish, and uploaded the shot as quickly as I could before the battery died again. Apparently the coldness of the day had robbed the batteries charge quicker than usual.
My buddy Jed and I ended up winning the tournament in the team division, setting a new RiverBassin Trail team total of 124.75 inches for 6 smallmouth. But it almost didn't happen that way due to the cold October rain chilling my cell phone's battery.
I've learned a few things about these kind of catch, photo, release and upload tournaments. You should have a back up camera, you should have a dry washcloth to dry the screen, as cold rain soaked fingers don't work well with touch screens, and you should have a portable battery recharger.
Ironically, I won such a device at that tournament for catching the first fish in the event. It's a Flip 10 by GoalZero, and plugs into the USB that my phone charger uses at home. It provides a secondary USB plug to charge both my phone and the battery. When I leave to go fishing in the morning, I take the Flip 10 and the cord, toss it in my dry bag and don't have to worry about losing a charge on a cold day of fishing.