After the Tournament
A paddle lover gets his first taste of pedal-driven kayak fishing
Words and Photos by Chris Funk
The morning after Tom Michael secured victory in the inaugural Hobie Bass Open on Kentucky Lake, the waters were once again experiencing an onslaught of kayaks. Instead of rolling over in our beds, media representatives from several publications and the crew from Hobie were readying gear and launching at a new location. After an awesome breakfast at Bee Springs Lodge on a beautiful bluff overlooking the lake, we grabbed our cameras and headed out.
As a 20+ year paddler, the Hobie Pro Angler 14 had me as far out of my element as I could get. A quick lesson from Hobie pro Morgan Promnitz had me ready for the water. He showed me the adjustability of the Mirage Drive and how to set up the Vantage Seating system for maximum comfort. With a few tweaks I was heading out on my first kayak pedaling experience. I made it out about the time that outdoor writer and photographer Ben Duchesney had the first fish of the morning dancing on his line.
Ben had borrowed my 6-weight Redington Pursuit fly rod and proceeded to show me just how a perfect loop of fly line should look. I could tell that I could learn a few things from him about photography, but I could learn a LOT from him about fly casting.
We spent the morning shaking down a pair of Hobie PA 14's in the backwaters of Kentucky Lake. They made for a great standing platform but all of the accoutrements that make them so handy and comfortable also grab fly line. We spent the morning thinking through modifications that would help fly anglers keep their lines snag-free from potential traps on the boats. As soon as we were back on shore the Hobie crew assured us they were already planning accessories for the fly angler that will keep fly lines in the air and not in tangles.
Ben and I spent too much time behind our cameras to have been overly serious about the fishing so the next morning our plans changed. We wanted to hit the fish hard and then break out the cameras. In a short stretch of shoreline, both of us had multiple bass on the fly. All were on a floating fly called a Stealth Bomber and the topwater carnage was an added bonus. The funny thing is, I had as many inches of bass in the first 30 minutes as I had in the whole second day of the tournament. I guess I should have used the flyrod the whole time! A few beautiful pumpkinseed added color to the morning catch and the bass stayed active till time to head home.
I hated to leave the lake but a 455 mile drive was still ahead of me. Memories of this trip will stay with me for a long time but the friends I made during the week are for life. We laughed and smiled till our faces hurt and caught more fish than we had a right to. I got to play with multiple kayaks and exercise my photographic muscles all in the same adventure. I don't know when the next Hobie Bass open will be, but if there is any way I can make it, you better believe I will be there to cover it and compete.