Mission: Search out a productive flat
Angler: Kapers Murph
Season: Early July
Location: Somewhere in Central Florida
Rig: A Shimano Teramar paired with a Shimano Stradic CI4 spinning reel.
Bait and line: PowerPro 15-pound braid attached to a Slayer Inc. Lure Co. soft plastic.
The Story: Hardcore Kayak Anglers Club tournament regular Murph was scouting new water when he spooked a school of more than 100 bulls. He waited for the fish to settle, then started working the edge. "This monster decided he wanted what I had to offer. I sent him on his way to give another angler the joy of battling such an amazing fish," he says.
Mission: Prefish for the North Texas Kayak Trail
Angler: Alan Sladek
Season: The first days of a chilly February.
Location: Lake Ray Roberts, north Texas.
Rig: A Temple Fork Outfitters Tactical Series rod and Abu Garcia Revo SX bait caster.
Bait and Line: A modified Hags Tornado Baits Undertaker Junior threaded onto a Santone Lure Rattlin' Jig.
The Story: Sladek was using a large profile bait to probe for prespawn bass off a rocky bank near wooded structure at the convergence of two creek channels when he connected with this 10-pound football. "Man did it do the trick. To date this is my largest catch in my Hobie Pro Angler 14," he says, skipping over his tournament performance. He was already a winner.
Mission: Catch his first kayak musky
Angler: Mike Densel
Season: A Midwestern summer.
Location: Skinner Lake, Noble County, Indiana.
Rig: A Carrotstix rod with a Pflueger Supreme reel.
Bait and Line: A Berkley Flicker Shad crankbait tied onto 20-pound Sufix 832 Advanced Superline braid.
The Story: Densel had worn his arm out casting big musky baits when he downsized to his go-to crank for crappie. The little bait proved magical, but it almost succumbed. After the thirty-minute fight, both trebles were nearly straightened. Densel says kayak fishing is just getting off the ground in eastern Indiana. With catches like this, he's leading the way.
Mission: School his cat catchers
Angler: Christian Myrick
Season: Early winter.
Location: Lake Lavon, Wylie, Texas.
Rig: A Pole-Kat Custom Rods heavy 20-40 with an Abu Garcia 6500 round reel and a Pro Angler Tackle medium-heavy 15-30 with an Abu Garcia 7000 round reel.
Bait and Line: Cut gizzard shad presented on 20-pound Berkley Big Game monofilament.
The Story: Myron was hosting a catfishing camp for the Mariner Sails Kayak Fishing Club when he literally put on a clinic. Only 15 minutes after he anchored over a dip in the bottom, both of his rods went off with 30-pound kitties. He followed it up with a 50. "Everyone caught fish. We all had a blast," Myrick says.
Mission: Set a personal small mouth record
Angler: Eric Boyd
Location: An undisclosed Carolina river.
Rig: A 6'9″ medium light spinning combo.
Bait and Line: A Mepps #4 Aglia in green platinum tied onto 6-pound Berkley Nanofil with 8-pound monofilament leader.
The Story: Boyd and his friend Matt Frazier were fishing a remote section of a secret (to most) river somewhere in Carolina. Frazier had already made a few casts into a hole when Boyd drifted by in his Coosa. He tried it from a different angle, paying off with a personal best 21.5-inch river smallmouth bass. Frazier didn't mind. "He's happy whenever anyone catches a good fish," Boyd says of his friend.
Mission: Taxi to a tremendous AJ.
Angler: Graham Tayloe
Season: Late summer
Location: 60 miles offshore of Orange Beach, Alabama.
Rig: A Penn Spinfisher V 6500 spinner paired with a heavy Shimano Trevala rod.
Bait and Line: A live mullet baited on 80-pound PowerPro braid.
The Story: Hungry to hook up with a drag-ripping amberjack, Tayloe tossed his Frontier onto Chris Braswell's 31-foot Cape Horn and made the run to a distant rockpile. He offloaded on good marks, and was slammed on his first drop. The battle was intense. "I have fought many of these from a boat where you can use you legs as well as your upper body. The kayak was a whole different story. I was whipped," Tayloe says.
Mission: Crab-Walk a Flat with Dad
Angler: Jordan Ray Rinando
Location: Galveston Island, Texas
Rig: A Temple Fork Outfitters medium-heavy spinning rod with a Daiwa GC200 closed-face reel.
Bait and line: A popping cork and Berkley Gulp Shrimp on 30-pound braid.
The Story: Vincent Rinando joined his son Ray, 5, on a tandem kayak to learn the finer points of crab-walking a flat. They chased a few schools, saw a few stingrays, and caught several redfish including this one.
Photo: Vincent Rinando